OSS Government Representation

The United States is currently working on an Infrastructure Act which will be funded to the tune of 760 billion dollars. https://twitter.com/jdorfman/status/1411750580272308226?s=20

Unfortunately, open-source technology such as curl and Python will not see a cent from that bill. Open source is the infrastructure of the web, and legislators fail to see the importance of funding open source. But we also fail to show up and comment on legislation or give our local representative a call.

In the future, we want open-source projects to receive government funding, but that’s not going to happen unless we start getting politically active.

We ought to hire a political science intern to help us understand when laws are being proposed. The intern will help us

  • keep current on proposed legislation
  • call political representatives
  • comment on proposed legislation

The internship will be about 3-4 months long. While they’re teaching us the legislative process, we can teach them the basics of coding and introduce them to open source technologies like git and JavaScript. I’d be more than happy to find and mentor this intern.

This is very American-centric, but I’m sure that we can in the future hire and mentor interns from other areas of the world.

In terms of funding, I don’t mind putting up some money to pay the intern but would love it if other companies and organizations chipped in.


Yes. This is what we need to sustain Free and Open Source Software, across international boundaries (which, of course, is what FOSS does!). Here’s a superb talk given by an IT consultant to (of all people) the MIchigan State Appropriations Committee - even here in New Zealand, more than a few of us took note. Michigan Senate Appropriations Committee, Feb 26 2020 - YouTube If that - and the response from the Committee - don’t give you optimism, not sure what will.


Maybe setting up in the US a community like this would help: Open Source - OpenForum Europe


This is partially what the Research Software Alliance (ReSA) is seeking to achieve. We could be a coordinator for such work, though we’re mostly a volunteer organization.


This group does not need an intern. There are a lot of organizations tracking activities that impact open source in the US, in statehouses, in Brussels, you name it, there is an organization. They are underfunded and their activities are dispersed.

Think about it. How many different NGOs and foundations can you name that support “open source”? Everyone of them advocates for some public policy.

Thanks, @danielskatz!

Would love to connect with you Daniel and learn more about the Research Software Alliance.


Brilliant idea, Alberto.

I also plan on reaching out and learning more about their upcoming Open Source Policy Community meeting.

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Would love to connect with you Daniel and learn more about the Research Software Alliance.

Can you email me at d.katz@ieee.org and we can set up a call?

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Excellent Daniel, will send you an email. Thank you!

This thread caught the eye of Ashwin Ramaswami (@epicfaace) who wrote Securing Open Source Software at the Source. Had a call with him today, really love his energy and vision.

Huge props to @pkafei for making things happen!


This is a call for Aaron Swartz. It doesn’t need to be just an intern job - it needs to be a movement.


Also, I loved this presentation :clap:

As someone who has been playing around with the “public funding for open-source software” ideas for some time, I’d be happy to connect and join any effort/working group related to this topic.


Thanks, I’m going to talk to him tomorrow.

The goal of this thread is for all of us to brainstorm ways we can make open source a priority to governments around the world!


Thanks. Let’s get connected.

I’m impressed by all of the work this group has done in making sure that open source has a seat at the table. Too many of our government officials are ignorant in how open source is the digital backbone of the modern world.


Now that the money is involved, more and more corporations are turning to open source to turn it into a business model, promoting themselves as leaders in open source, marking good things that we’ve achieved as a open source community with their names. And the concern is that people become a replaceable assets, and those who have opinion in community are being attacked and cancelled. Prior to GitHub acquisition there were harassment scandals, FSF founder was involved in that too. So called open core model is promoted from big conferences. The code is open, yes but there are no people in this model, no culture, no sharing of knowledge, no open society, new connected type of people. Only giants trying to brand this field.

@pkafei Happy to set up another meeting time to discuss this topic. Let me know! Hope the talks with Daniel Katz and Ashwin went well.


Another public fund initiative from Germany: Digital Infrastructure Fund

And here’s the tweet where I saw it (I don’t think she’s the contact person but still…).

I believe this is the fund that Julia Reda was referring to back at FOSS Backstage:


Thanks for the share @coni2k, this is encouraging to see!


Another exciting initiative in this space is “Digital Public Goods Alliance” :point_down: