Datapoint on entities with competitive advantage in commons-based production supporting commons-favoring policy

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VA Releases Open Source Policy Memorandum 2015-06-07 by Roger A. Maduro in Open Health News is about the release of:

an executive policy memorandum that mandates a thorough evaluation of “Open Source Software (OSS) solutions when [the] VA acquires software.” The policy also calls for the Federal agency to consider the use of open source “development practices when VA develops software.”

Open source is not mandated nor even favored as a feature as far as I can tell, but this is a start. The reason I’m calling out here is one sentence:

During the Summit, VA’s CIO Stephen Warren gave a detailed presentation on the VA’s open source strategy during a half-day session that also included Red Hat’s CEO Jim Whitehurst.

My note on Red Hat as an “exemplar” of things to hopefully come:

Red Hat, the only for-profit organization on this list, is by far the largest nearly pure play commons-based production (open source) organization. If only as a result of selling to governments, they apparently have a “Global Public Policy” department, though little information about it is on the web. Speculation: If there were even larger businesses with a competitive advantage in delivering commons-based solutions, at some point it would be in their interest to use public policy to exclude proprietary competition, completely turning the tables on procurement policy, and sealing the proprietary gravestone with product regulation.

Related: Proprietary software imperils local government. Open source-mandating, -favoring, or even as above -including policy can help, but to really break the proprietary stronghold over “enterprise” applications for government, big vendor (such as Red Hat) involvement is probably needed.

Either that, or small players learn to organize themselves an influence public policy.

Here in Brazil there’s something like a patronal union (is that a term in English? a union of firm owners instead of employees) of small free software business being cooked.


I’ll take both. Smaller commons-based players getting more organized is more interesting but has usual collective action problem. I’d love to have examples. If/when there’s info about this free software business union in Brazil on the web please point me to it, happy to read autotranslation.

I’m not familiar with the term patronal union. Perhaps a trade association? Those are very common in the US but often dominated by big players. Well known trade associations having something to do with free software include the Linux Foundation, Eclipse Foundation, and smaller ‘foundations’ organized around corporate-led projects. As far as I know none have done any public policy organizing, I’d be happy to see some effort from them, and more involvement from smaller businesses or an effective pro-software-freedom association specifically for smaller businesses. There’s no Portuguese entry for but I will suggest merging

FWIW some are skeptical of their influence period, though outside free software micro politics, I’ll take their non-neutrality based on their competitive advantage in selling commons-based solutions relative to those with an advantage selling proprietary solutions, just as I’ll take Red Hat as a very positive influence both absolutely and relative to say Oracle.

Employer organization is a more generic term that I’ve much less frequenrly heard used to describe an actual organization. Maybe that is what you mean though, says patronal in Spanish, there is no entry for Portuguese.

Yeah, trade association is more accurate, as they’re not focused on negotiating with or about employees, instead they’ll focus on policy for free software. But they are calling it a union (“sindicato”), probably thinking more in terms of worker’s unions than employer organizations - even though they’re bosses.

And I agree with you that we should take them for what they’re worth, and recognize it’s not little.

This is the web presence for the case I mentioned:

They present themselves as a trade association of people working on software to advance democracy, but free software is one of the first items in their agenda.

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Instituto Mutirão looks like “civic tech” based on the home page, but having free software near the top of their agenda is much better than what is typical of civic tech in the US and some other places, I speculate because data and design are somehow less scary and more cool than the brains of government. But I care about the brains. :slight_smile: Semi-related and Proprietary software imperils local government

Anyway thanks for the pointer, I’ll keep an eye on IM and would love to find out about other efforts to organize smaller players to influence policy in a pro-commons fashion.

I note that their bio says

O Mutirão é um coletivo formado por profissionais de diversas áreas, que se uniram em um objetivo comum: promover o uso e a apropriação das tecnologias

which I get a probably very bad translation of

The Mutirão is a collective made up of professionals from various fields, who united in a common goal: to promote the use and ownership of technology

Another datapoint –

We are pleased to announce the formation of the Coalition for Enterprise Open Source Software in Government (CEOSSG) to advocate greater utilization of enterprise open source software (OSS) by federal agencies. Our goal in establishing this coalition is to become the leading industry advocate on Capitol Hill and within the Obama Administration for communicating the benefits associated with the utilization of enterprise-class open source software solutions.

  • Assess federal policy gaps relating to Open Source software and develop targeted legislative and agency remedies.
  • Capitol Hill champions of standards and Big Data to drive greater Open Source software utilization.
  • Engage with Members of Congress associated with of Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act.

Founded in 2014 by Red Hat, is the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, CEOSSG is a leading industry advocate on Capitol Hill and within the Obama Administration for open source technology.