PITAC Endorses Open-Source Software

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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