Open Source for America (OSFA) was announced as a coalition to encourage U.S. federal government support of and participation in open source projects and technologies. If that sounds like a broad-reaching goal, it is. Nearly three months after the group's debut, I was interested to learn what progress OSFA has made toward this goal.
I'd reached out to the OSFA and was directed to Tom Rabon, executive vice president of corporate affairs at Red Hat and a member of the OSFA steering committee. Tom spoke about the early success of OSFA and some upcoming challenges.
OSFA membership has grown from 70 individuals, associations, vendors, non-governmental organizations, and research institutions to more than 1,300 members. This growth has occurred without a coordinated outreach program by OSFA. The OSFA coalition has been contacted by a similar organization in Australia called Open Technology Foundation that wants to learn best practices from OSFA.
On the other hand, since OSFA is a volunteer organization, the progress to date has been limited by the time and effort required to organize the growing membership into projects and actions that can advance OSFA's goal. Additionally, finding common ground across such a diverse group of members, including several competing vendors, is no simple task.
Recent progress has centered on the definition of 11 OSFA working groups in alphabetical order:
Acquisitions and Competition
Elections and Voting Technology
Energy and Transportation
State and Local
According to Rabon, the Marketing working group will be instrumental in expanding OSFA's outreach programs in 2009 and early 2010.
Rabon also described the Open Government Report Card Project, which aims to: