Red Hat's Whitehurst Sees Obama in Open Source
Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst has issued a statement praising President Obama for bringing a culture of openness and participatory governance to the White House. According to Whitehurst, the Obama administration's commitment to transparency and inclusiveness reflects the same values that are found at the core of the community-driven open source software development model. "President Obama came to office with the promise of change. His administration has pledged to create an environment of openness and participation. Red Hat is excited that the Obama administration recognizes the value of open source beyond software," said Whitehurst.
Whitehurst cites Republican media consultant Alex Castellanos, who recently described Obama as an "open source" president during a CNN segment. Whitehurst also contended that open source software supports a government of openness and participation by saving money for government agencies; bringing choice; providing "access to information" through the Open Document Format (ODF) standard; and producing a "meritocracy," in which "everyone can contribute, and ideas are adopted and rewarded" on the basis of merit.
Why open source in government? Whitehurst has this to say - "Open source can also provide access to information. Open Document Format, or ODF, is a standard that asserts that public documents should be based in open, non-proprietary formats that anyone can read at any time. To date more than 15 national governments have endorsed the standard. We believe citizens shouldn’t have to pay twice to access information that already belongs to them. Also, as closed formats become obsolete, documents and data could be lost. ODF keeps public information public. We have seen what can happen when the public has access to information. A model of transparency and participation offers the promise of an answer to our ailing economy. The effort of many, even in small ways, can be mobilized toward solving the largest problems".
Whitehurst believes that this change won’t happen overnight. "We believe that the Obama Administration has an unprecedented opportunity to use open source to spark innovation and positive change. All levels of government can make it happen if they work collaboratively and follow Obama’s rallying cry, “Yes, we can.”
On a related note, during a conference call with analysts, held about a fortnight ago to announce his company's financial results, Whitehurst mentioned that "government markets are very good" for Red Hat: "I can tell you that open source and RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux), specifically, [are] well adopted in the government -- not only US government but state and local government and foreign government."