Who’s savviest about open source: feds or contractors?

Study shows sharp difference in understanding

Who better understands open-source software (OSS) and how it can move government to cloud computing: government contractors or government officials?

Inquiring minds at Lockheed Martin Corp. and Market Connections Inc. wanted to know.

According to their joint study, released May 11, contractors win hands down, with 69 percent of contractor respondents saying their organizations are already using OSS versus just 40 percent of federal agency respondents.

The study, “The Intersection of Open Source and the Cloud,” also revealed that many in government do not have a good understanding of what open-source software is, although they are aware of its potential benefit in producing reliable, high-quality software quickly and affordably.

"One major takeaway is that while most federal respondents believe that OSS is the wave of the future, acceptance is hindered by a widespread lack of understanding and awareness," said Cynthia Poole, research director at Market Connections, a government market research firm.

"In fact, four out of 10 respondents were not sure of their agency's use of open source, or plans to expand it," she said.

Lockheed Martin, of Bethesda, Md., ranks No. 1 on Washington Technology’s 2010 Top 100 list of the largest federal government contractors.

About the Author

David Hubler is the former print managing editor for GCN and senior editor for Washington Technology. He is freelance writer living in Annandale, Va.

Reader Comments

Wed, May 11, 2011 Jason Hull Charlottesville, VA

Until the contracting officer community is informed about the capabilities and licenses of open source, a gap will continue to exist. They check the box with COTS even though, in many cases (eg Solr vs. Google or FAST), open source is both much cheaper and performs with more capability. Open source will continue to have to bubble up from the groundswell of users and the contracting support community will have to make the effort to become fully informed and educated on the capabilities and communities of open source.

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