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Does FAR include open source software?

An article in the latest issue of the DoD Software Tech News (free registration required) poses an interesting question: Does the Federal Acquisition Regulation demand agencies look at open source software as a possibility when procuring software?

In his paper for the issue, Institute for Defense Analysis' David Wheeler believes this to be the case.

FAR, of course, requires agencies look at what commercial software when procuring a new application, as commercial software can, of course, offer a lower-cost alternative than commissioning a contractor to write a program anew. Wheeler argues that open source software, even when available for free, still should be considered commercial software. As a result, "An agency that fails to consider OSS options is in direct violation of the FAR, because it would be failing to consider commercial items," he wrote.

Perhaps, though as Open Source Software Institute head John Weathersby notes in another article, any Defense Department agency thinking about using open source software should check with their legal departments before doing so. Unless, of course, your service already has issued a policy on open source software.

Software Tech News is new to us, by the way. John Scott, one of the authors of a paper that appeared in the issue had passed along the link. It is published by the Defense Department Information Analysis Center. Other interesting tidbits we found in this issue (the "open source" issue) is that The Army is Red Hat's single largest install base and the Navy has started a open source repository of defense contractor-developed code, called SHARE.


Posted by Joab Jackson on Jul 06, 2007 at 9:39 AM


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