Open source is imperiously taking over the internet. Today, you’d be hard-pressed to find a tech company that is not, in some way, leveraging open source to their advantage. Open source is working to lead technologies into the future.
Dominating more than 25 percent of the internet, WordPress is one of the biggest open-source projects in the world. Its flexibility and ability to scale make it the obvious choice for any website, regardless of industry. From education and nonprofits to enterprise companies and world-renowned publications, WordPress is the CMS of choice.
WordPress, and open source more broadly, has recently even reached the U.S. government.
Open Source’s Place In The Government
In an effort to “reduce costs, streamline development, apply uniform standards, and ensure consistency in creating and delivering information,” the U.S. government has created a “Federal Source Code Policy,” that provides public access to federal source code.
The policy includes guidelines such as a three-year pilot program that requires agencies to create new software for the government to release a minimum of 20 percent of the newly developed code as Open Source Software and collect metrics on the performance of the code. In addition, the government launched code.gov, a website which will store government code and allow others to view it.
This isn’t the first time WordPress has partnered with the government. WordPress plays an important role in bringing open data to the public by powering NASA’s data project, Data.gov, and the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau.
The U.S. isn’t the only country that open source has infiltrated. Bulgaria recently enacted amendments to make government software open source and accessible to the public. According to an open-source world map by NetworkWorld, most of Western Europe, China, and Australia encourage the use of open-source software. Countries like Russia, Brazil, and Turkey have open-source software mandated for consideration.
So how has open source been able to infiltrate governments? The answer is in the platform it provides.
Open Source Is A Product Of The People, By The People
Open source acts as a kind of a democracy. As mentioned before, any coder can ideally go in and edit the code, just like anyone can ideally create WordPress plugins to alter their website. Open source has overthrown the misconception of being insecure and copyrighted. By allowing others to go in and do their thing with code gives much more room for improvement that a small group of coders can’t. According to an article by WIRED, companies like ExxonMobil, Walmart, JP Morgan, and Wells Fargo are all using open source to advance in their industry, proving you don’t have to be a tech company to create software. Open source is where a collection of elements can come together to make something truly unique for a company.
Open Source Wants To Save You Money
Open source is being used to cut taxpayers’ dollars. The policy draft mentions the government spending $6 billion on software — that’s where the reducing costs comes in. If federal employees can work together to reduce costs, apply uniform standards, and develop code faster that will require far less spending of tax money and “decrease duplicative costs for the same code and reducing Federal vendor lock-in.”
When it comes to WordPress you can use a free theme to start and test the waters to see what your site needs before you buy plugins or more themes. Anyone can build these themes and plugins just like anyone can improve government code.
Open Source Promotes Transparency
Having access to the code provides transparency. Now, developers can see exactly what is being done with the code and make suggestions to change it. One of the tenements of the open source platform is reduce, reuse and recycle.
Having open source technology encourages federal agencies to work together to create reusable code. Coders can reduce duplicate code, reuse code, and recycle and repurpose codes for unique functions. These are the reasons NASA.gov has chosen to use the WordPress platform. Instead of building a secure website from scratch, NASA already has a secure platform that they can easily manipulate with plugins and security updates.
The Perfect Candidate Doesn’t Always Have The Perfect Policy
Even though open source has many ways to benefit the government, there have been points of critique on the policy. Mostly, developers don’t think 20 percent is enough and will slow down the great strides open source is making to modernize the government. Product manager at GitHub, Ben Balter and a representative from Mozilla have spoken out against the proposed draft and claim 100 percent of the source code should be open to truly be beneficial.
Open Source Has Endorsements
In 2013, President Obama delivered a speech on making data open to the public. “Now, the good news is America is full of talented, dedicated public servants who are working really hard every day to uphold the public trust.”
Open source and WordPress are opening up the world. It can be used to streamline all government processes and make everything easier.
Where do you think WordPress and open source are going next? Answer in the comments below.