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8/21/2009
12:45 PM
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Defense Info Agency Open-Sources Its Web Apps

Working with the Open Source Software Institute, the U.S. military's IT agency hopes to create a model for open sourcing other government-developed software.

The Defense Information Systems Agency is making its internally developed suite of administrative and workflow applications available to other government agencies as open source software.

The Open Source Content Management Information System (OSCMIS) comprises more than 50 Web applications, including workforce management, automated workflow, learning management, balanced scorecard, and telework management.

DISA, which provide IT services to the Department of Defense, made the decision to share its applications after other agencies expressed interest in them, said Dick Nelson, chief of personnel systems support at DISA's manpower, personnel and security directorate. "Federal agencies discovered that the applications we have could be of benefit more widely," he said. Interest is coming from states and counties, as well.

DISA worked with the non-profit Open Source Software Institute, which promotes the use of open source in government and academia. OSSI copyrighted the software stack and licensed it back to DISA, making it available at no cost to government agencies under the Open Software License 3.0. "It's already paid for because the taxpayer paid for us to build it," Nelson said.

OSSI wanted to create a process that could be repeated with other government-built applications. "The opportunity was more than the product," executive director John Weatherby said. "One of the key things was to set up a system, a process that can be replicated by other government agencies."

DISA and OSSI were also looking to create an "arena" where software developers could build and share code for OSCMIS. DISA's been working on OSCMIS for more than a decade. Wide in scope, the project remains relatively narrow in manpower, with a team of about a dozen employees.

Going forward, DISA wants to encourage use of and training in Adobe Cold Fusion, which it used to build OSCMIS, to increase the talent pool of OSCMIS developers. "We would even like to start with kids in high school to get them interested in software development as a career," Nelson said.


InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on application development. Download the report here (registration required).

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