In a boost to the open source software movement, the United States Department of Defense (DoD) issued a 68+ page report entitled Open Technology Development (OTD): Lessons Learned & Best Practices for Military Software, the DoD outlines the military’s experiences with and approval of open source software. From this paragraph on page 1 of the Introduction, it appears that the DoD writers actually get it:
Imagine if only the manufacturer of a rifle were allowed to clean, fix, modify or upgrade that rifle. The military often finds itself in this position with taxpayer funded, contractor developed software: one contractor with a monopoly on the knowledge of a military software system and control of the software source code. This is optimal only for the monopoly contractor, but creates inefficiencies and ineffectiveness for the government, reduction of opportunities for the industrial base, severely limits competition for new software upgrades, depletes resources that can be used to better effect and wastes taxpayer-provided funds.
The report outlines a framework with recommendations to assist government agencies in planning and utilizing OTD resources. One piece of sagacious advice found on report page 4 reads: “In general, it is important to simplify use, modification, and distribution. If it takes a team of lawyers to determine if there are adequate rights to modify a program, it will not happen.”