National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Commit to open standards for software

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, Oracle's office suite, called OpenOffice.org, is a free and complete replacement for Microsoft Office. This open source Oracle 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 with a transition 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. 9161