The use of open source technology is not new in state and local government, but the potential to dramatically change the way agencies operate could bring the concept new life.
With an ever-increasing demand for better services coming from citizens, state and local government agencies are finding a need to change the way they operate internally in order to move toward creating a more seamless experience of working with technology.
In a roundtable discussion with several c-level state and local government technology officials from around Northern California in January 2018, leaders said they were “open” to open source, but had certainly not leveraged the full capabilities the technology represents.
One leader said they created a working group of like-minded technology leaders across government to talk about open source, and to determine how to more deeply integrate it into the way their agency operates.
The leader also said the agency feels the pressure to move in the direction of open source from startups and civic tech enthusiasts.
“A couple of years ago, we did our first community involvement civic tech workshop,” the leader said. “We set out to get one or two applications, and we ended up getting something around 12.”
Those applications could only be possible with the stable and secure architecture allowed by open source.
But state and local government can’t go it alone when it comes to open source. Instead, agencies must find the right partners to move forward with. Leaders present in the discussion encouraged finding partners who were regular contributors to the open source community, and not just ones who use the phrase in marketing language.
“Communities create projects, not products,” one leader said in the discussion. “We need to be looking for industry partners that are familiar with open source methodologies and contribute back to their communities.”
Some vendors who tout open source are among the most active contributors to open source projects like Linux, another leader said, and invest money and time in working collaboratively with their government customers on innovation-focused projects.
In order for the true change that open source represents to take root in government, though, the culture of government itself needs to change, one leader said.
“We can’t continue to ignore [open source], because it is becoming more and more commonplace, a leader said.”
For more information on how state and local governments are looking at open source to innovate the way they do business, check out the full report.
This article was produced by StateScoop for, and sponsored by, Red Hat and Intel.