Open source collaboration: Two cases in the U.S. public sector

  • Michael P. Hamel National Center for Digital Government
  • Charles M. Schweik University of Massachusetts
Keywords: open-source, floss, collaboration, consortia, government, public sector, government collaboration, open-source collaboration


Globally, there is an emergence of open source consortia focused on the sharing of resources and code, and a desire to promote an open source approach generally. In this paper, we describe our findings from interviews with participants working in two relatively new consortia in the government sector: the Government Open Code Collaborative or GOCC, and the Open Source Software Institute or OSSI. For each case we consider six major questions: (1) How and why did these collaborative efforts begin? (2) What are their motivations? (3) How are these collaborative efforts governed? (4) What communication and collaborative infrastructure do they utilize? (5) What software do they focus on? and, (6) What is their current status? Our findings suggest that incentives, membership structures, stable paid staff, concentrated focus and attention to the creation and delivery of “value” to participating organizations are important factors leading to successful open source consortia.

Author Biographies

Michael P. Hamel, National Center for Digital Government
Michael P. Hamel is a Business Analyst with the City of Boston and a research fellow at the National Center for Digital Government. His research is focused on the use of open-source software in the public sector.
Charles M. Schweik, University of Massachusetts
Charles M. Schweik is an Associate Professor with a joint appointment shared between the Department of Natural Resources Conservation and the Center for Public Policy and Administration at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He is also the Associate Director of the National Center for Digital Government, and an affilated researcher with the Science, Technology, and Society Initiative at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His research focuses on environmental management and policy, public-sector information technology, and the intersection of those domains.
How to Cite
Hamel, M. P., & Schweik, C. M. (2008). Open source collaboration: Two cases in the U.S. public sector. First Monday, 14(1).