Ozone Widget Framework to be on GitHub by Sept. 30

DoD contemplates launching a government open source foundation

CHARLESTON, S.C. – Code for a National Security Agency-made framework for lightweight web application development should be posted on to GitHub by Sept. 30, a Defense Department official said May 24 during the Mil-OSS LANT conference on military open source adoption.

The national defense authorization act for the current fiscal year mandated that the code, the Ozone Widget Framework, be made available to the public and it's likely the OWF will be released under the Apache 2 and the GNU General Public License version 3 licenses, said Dan Risacher, a "net-centric evangelist" within the DoD office of chief information officer.

The government open source software board that oversees OWF considered releasing the code to forge.mil, the Defense Information Systems Agency-led code development hosting service and repository, but ultimately decided not to, Risacher said. That's largely because intelligence community participants outside of the DoD can't access forge.mil, Risacher said.

"They do not have DoD certs, they're not interested in getting DoD certs. They said if you do it on forge.mil, we can't get access to it," he added. 

Risacher also said the board overseeing OWF could be interested in creation of a government open source foundation that would make it easier for government coders to release code to the public.

Currently, distributing open source code back to the public "sounds good in practice, but then--what bad thing might happen?" said Risacher, explaining the typical risk calculation that stops many program managers from actually sharing.

Donating code to a foundation for government coders analogous to the Eclipse or Apache foundations would remove that risk, Risacher said. However, a foundation--especially should it offer services like Eclipse or Apache, which have their own repositories--would cost money. In the current budget austere environment, it's possible that startup money could be found, but probably not stable year-after-year, Risacher said, meaning that government open source foundation may have to be a public-private effort.

For more:
- listen to Risacher's talk at the Mil-OSS LANT conference

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