PITAC endorses open-source software

"Report to the President on Open Source Software for High End Computing"

The federal government should use open-source software development as the

new model for high-end computing needs, according to a report by the President's

Information Technology Advisory Committee.

Open-source development is a "viable strategy for producing high-quality

software through a mixture of public, private and academic partnerships,"

PITAC chairmen Raj Reddy and Irving Wladawsky-Berger wrote in a letter sent

to President Clinton last week. "This open-source approach permits new software

to be openly shared and allows users to modify, study or augment the software's

functionality," they wrote.

The report, the second in a series of follow-ups to a report released

in February 1999, makes three recommendations and urges the administration

to include them in the proposed fiscal 2001 budget for IT research and development:

* The federal government should encourage the development of open-source

software for high-end computing and must perform a technical assessment

and create a management plan and funding model to do so.

* The government procurement process must facilitate open-source development.

* Open source licensing agreements should be analyzed, with the goal

of reaching a single agreement for open-source software applications.

Lori Perine, deputy to the associate director of technology at the Office

of Science and Technology Policy, said she hadn't yet reviewed PITAC's latest

report, but said that she would not be surprised if its recommendations

were adopted in some way by the administration.

"Obviously, when PITAC submits a report, we want to review it to see

to what extent we can implement their recommendations, assuming they are

consistent with the overall administration's policy, and so far their guidance

has been fabulous," Perine said.

PITAC is charged with providing guidance and advice on all areas of

high- performance computing, communications and information technologies

to the president and appropriate federal agencies.

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