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Open Source: It Takes a Village to Deliver the Best and Most Secure Citizen Services

Jamie Duncan, Cloud Architect, Red Hat

July 29, 2019  |  Collaboration

Innovation rarely comes from the mind of one person. Most often it’s a team, working together, sharing their ideas that causes a breakthrough. Sometimes those people are in the same room and other times they’re half a world away, solving different problems, but seeking to achieve the same goal.

This is just as true for federal agencies as it is in the private sector. Collaboration is the key to moving forward and providing better citizen services and open source has been a big part of that. In 2016, Former President Barack Obama instituted the Federal Source Code Policy, which urged agencies to use open source software whenever appropriate. Among other things, the policy included a program requiring agencies to publish 20 percent of code written by the government.

This has provided myriad benefits to agencies, including reduced spending by avoiding duplicative custom software procurement and promoting collaboration, as well as giving the best minds a shot to improve and secure the code that keeps our federal government running every day.

Cost savings are just the beginning. While much of the government’s software is bought off-the-shelf, there are many instances where agencies need custom software suited to a very particular mission. Since agencies often work in silos when developing these tools, there’s the chance that other agencies are missing out on software they could also use to their advantage. This costs the government precious IT money, especially as it currently spends nearly $10 billion a year on software.

Beyond that, open source provides some of the most secure software available. That’s because it’s coded using languages with the fewest known vulnerabilities and tested by experts all over the world. Open source lets people see the code and try to break it. When an incident occurs, cyber pros across the globe can pitch in to help by sharing their own experience with similar incidents and by analyzing the code an agency used for any vulnerabilities.

In fact, some of the most invasive cyber incidents, like Heartbleed and Spectre were solved in the open source community. Open source means having a lot of different people looking at code from every angle—having a real-time community of diverse global coders working to come up with a solution.

For the government to seriously take advantage of open source, they need a trusted partner in the community to help guide them. Red Hat has been working in open source for more than 25 years. What started as a movement to embrace collaboration has become an industry standard. We’ve seen the benefits skyrocket as more organizations open up their code to promote innovation in everything from delivering services to fighting cyber crime.

Red Hat takes the best innovation from the open source community and stabilizes it for public sector missions. From NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to the Department of Defense, Red Hat has been a partner in making agencies better.

Our products are built to help agencies become more efficient, meet critical IT demand and seamlessly complete accreditation and certification processes. Red Hat solutions are used throughout the federal government and in all 50 states.

In a nutshell, open source is stronger, more efficient and more resilient because it’s built and tested by many, rather than a select few. In an era of constrained federal budgets and waning IT staff, Red Hat understands collaboration is not just an option, it’s a necessity. Why not allow great minds to help develop and secure the code that keeps America running?

For more information about how Iron Bow and Red Hat can help your agency take advantage of open source, visit Iron Bow’s website.

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