National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Reduce software expenses with open source software and standards

Currently, the U.S. government spends in excess of $1 billion annually to license software -- software that produces documents that are difficult to access after a few years because the new version of the software often doesn't work with the older documents. Since the document formats are proprietary, we have no way to access these documents other than by maintaining the unsupported older software. This has made transparency and long-term retention of government records difficult.

 

I propose the U.S. government make an official commitment to open source software and open standards, freeing us from the expensive license fees, and enabling transparency and long-term accessibility of government records.

 

For example, LibreOffice is a free, mature, and fully-featured office suite for documents, spreadsheets, and presentations released by The Document Foundation, a community-run organization with the support of major companies like Google and Novell. This open source software runs on Windows, Mac, and linux, and adheres to the ISO standard Open Document Format (ODF), which is supported by several office software products, including Microsoft Office. At the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which employs 5000 workers, about $2.5 million could be saved annually in license fees by transitioning to existing free and open source software alternatives.

 

These benefits have been realized by numerous companies and governments who have made the switch.

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Idea No. 195