In 2007, a small group of people began an intentional, collaborative experiment in open, transparent, and direct communication about your space program. Our goal was to enable your direct participation in exploring and contributing to NASA’s mission.

Many of us have since begun new adventures. This site will remain as an archive of the accomplishments of the openNASA experiment.

Nick Skytland

Over the past few years, we have been working hard at NASA to modernize the way we approach software development. Open Source is a critical component to our strategy. In 2011, we started a conversation around open source in government and hosted a summit at NASA Ames Research Center to bring together leaders, policymakers, and developers into the same room to discuss how best improve the development and release of open source at NASA. The event resulted in 13 recommendations, which really shaped our strategy going forward.

The first summit was so helpful to the Agency that we wanted to hold another, but this time with a broader focus. In 2012, the summit moved to the Washington, DC area and the aim was to advance the use of open source software throughout a wider government audience. The Department of Veteran’s Affairs and the State Department joined the discussion. The highly interactive summit highlighted a number of real-world examples, and help everyone involved make forward progress towards the goal of helping to improve innovation in government while driving costs down.

This year, we are holding the third Open Source Summit on June 25th and 26th at NYU in Washington, DC. Like the two before, this event will again bring together an exponentially growing community of open source developers and leaders from over 11 federal agencies as well as private industry. We will expand the conversation and focus on the following 3 themes:

  • Open Source Communities: How they work. How to engage with them. How to manage them.
  • Converting Closed Communities to Open: If you have a pre-existing development community and you are open sourcing the project, how do you manage this complexity?
  • Creating a New Community: So you’re releasing a project or data into the wild. How do you find people who care and get them excited about it?

Eleven federal agencies have helped plan this summit to help ensure that the speakers and topics address the real needs of agencies and answer current questions that government agencies are asking. Tight budgets, a continual need to innovate, and the rise of open source make this a very relevant conference for anyone who is involved with IT in government or community engagement. Here’s a sampling of questions that you can expect will be addressed:

  • How can open source allow me to reduce IT costs?
  • How can open source allow me to create amazing solutions?
  • Why are people working in open source communities?
  • What’s happening with open source in my mission area (e,g.,health, defense, labor)?
  • Is closed source no longer the easiest path?
  • I have a project that I want to covert to open source. Now what!?
  • My agency’s contracts teams are confused about the legal and contractual issues involved with procuring and using open source. How can I help educate them?
  • How can I shift from a government-led model to a community-led model?
  • What’s happening at the intersection of open source and open data?
  • What’s happening with GitHub in government?
  • What’s happening with Drupal in government?
  • What are other agencies doing that I need to be aware of - or plug into?

You can expect a very engaging event, presentations from industry leaders, and
face-to-face access to open source practitioners who are in the trenches solving real-world problems now. If you are interested in the role open source plays in government, as well as how you can build and engage an open source community, we encourage you to attend and join us on June 25-26th.