US Veterans’ Administration Almost Gets FLOSS

“The US Department of Veterans Affairs is looking to upgrade the 25-year-old software that powers its nationwide health care system, and it’s betting real money that open source is the way to do it.

To that end, the agency is sponsoring a contest in which three entrants will be awarded prizes of up to $3m each, provided they can demonstrate software based on open source code and open APIs (application programming interfaces) that can successfully replace components of the VA’s current systems.”

see Help a US gov't agency switch to open source, win $3 million • The Register.

While asking for open standards and actually offering to pay for results, the VA wants ASL 2.0, not GPL. That may be to allow modification of current ASL code but it cuts down on the existing software resources that are available. In the extreme case, if there existed a solution in GPL that met all their requirements except ASL 2.0, they could not accept it… That’s just plain silly.

If you really get FLOSS, you have to share and re-use source-code not just the latest build of some project. Still, it’s a start to getting the whole US government doing IT the right way, sharing it instead of paying a bunch of suppliers of similar software repeatedly for the use of it. The VA sees their source code as FLOSS and they don’t seem to care that it remains FLOSS after distribution. That’s short-sighted. Nevertheless this will help VA balance a budget. Obtain the software at the minimum cost, not what the market will bear.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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