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9/10/2009
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Gov 2.0: Army Announces Apps For Army Competition

At the Gov 2.0 Summit, the Army unveiled a competition encouraging soldiers to build open source software that can be shared across the military.

The Army will soon launch a competition for all soldiers and others in the .mil domain to build new software that will help it fight wars and carry out the rest of the Army's mission, Army CIO and Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Sorenson announced Thursday at the Gov 2.0 Summit in Washington, D.C.

"We have a lot of innovation happening with the soldiers, but it's happening in pockets and in silos, and in a way that's not shared with the rest of the Army," Sorenson said. The new contest, called Apps for the Army, will make that innovation available across the military by hosting entries on Forge.mil, the Defense Information Systems Agency's open source code and software repository.

In addition to new capabilities, the decreased cost of building new applications is another potential benefit. "If I could get my soldiers, my NCOs out in the field to create new applications, solve problems for me, then I'm not fighting the budget battle," said Maj. Gen Nickolas Justice, the Army's program executive officer for tactical command, control, and communications.

Apps for the Army draws inspiration from iStrategyLabs' and Washington D.C.'s Apps for Democracy contest, in which citizens built apps that leverage government data. The Army contest was developed partially in conjunction with O'Reilly Media CEO Tim O'Reilly.

Users will be able to rate the utility of the new applications, helping to decide the competition.

According to Sorenson, the Army hopes to have a contract signed by the end of September with a company that will help facilitate the competition.

The Army is highlighting this project for the rest of the Department of Defense as well. Sorenson has held a series of discussions with CIO-level leadership at several other military branches to discuss next steps after the Army pilots the competition to see how it could be leveraged across the Department of Defense.


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