8 things the government can do about FOSS

Hey folks. I’ve penned down a few of my thoughts on what the government can do about FOSS in this blog post.

For context, I’m one of the FOSS United Scholars pursuing the GCPP Technology and Policy at the Takshashila Institution and in a recent lecture, we were taught to categorize the kinds of action a government can take into 8 categories.

  1. Do Nothing
  2. Engage in rhetoric
  3. Nudge-Change
  4. Umpire
  5. Marginally change incentives
  6. Drastically change incentives
  7. Change or reassign ownership
  8. Do It Yourself (DIY)

What do you all think? What kind of action do you the government should be taking and why do you think so? Do you have any comments on the arguments I made for or against any specific kind of action in my post?

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I think the government should be doing all of the above. We must realise that FOSS is already winning. The problem with government units in general is lack of ownership and capacity. Getting them to do more FOSS would mean fixing the root causes (capacity, quality of people and leadership, decision making) within technical departments of government / public sector units.

I think the government should be doing all of the above.

I don’t fully agree with you because each of the above provides a different amount of value. I’m leaning towards understanding/prioritizing the above list by the amount of value they provide given the cost.

The problem with government units in general is lack of ownership and capacity.

I mostly agree with you and this was one of the reasons behind the “FOSS projects by the Indian Government” topic. I wanted to catalog successful and failed FOSS efforts by the Indian Government and try to understand why they succeeded/failed. There are also instances where the projects have been active for 10+ years but they’re not exactly popular/widely-used.

Regarding “lack of ownership”, I’m wondering if the projects should be focused on community participation to ensure that the ownership passes on to the community if (and when) the Indian Government stops funding the project.

There is on such thing as “community” who can own these projects. Also governments should not be soliciting free labour in the guise of community participation on these projects. I think public academic institutions like the IITs might be a better place to host these projects.

The quality of government services will increase when there is stronger accountability. Again all of this is out of the realm of pure software / FOSS, but the root cause of why FOSS is not adopted is in these deeper issues.