New Defense Department guidelines released October 16th put open-source software on the same level as commercial software and urges DOD agencies to evaluate it on an equal basis with proprietary offerings. Read the memo here: http://bit.ly/3g8o1u.

“To effectively achieve its missions, the Department of Defense must develop and update its software-based capabilities faster than ever, to anticipate new threats and respond to continuously changing requirements,” wrote acting DOD Chief Information Officer David Wennergren, in a cover letter to the guidance, which was issued Oct. 16.

Military services procuring software should regard open-source as just another form of commercial software, the guidance states. When evaluating possible software choices, the agency should consider the benefits of open-source, such as how the code is peer-reviewed, the freedom from potential vendor-lock in, potential licensing issues about reusing the software and the potential cost-savings.

The guidance also states that the programming code of open-source software is “data” as defined by DOD Directive 8320.02. Because “open-source licenses authorize widespread dissemination of the licensed software,” the military can share open-source programs across the entire department.

The guidance also clarifies that any changes a service makes to an open-source program do not necessarily have to be shared with the public, though changes that do not compromise national security, such as code fixes and enhancements, should be shared wherever possible.