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The NSA’s Open-Source Initiative

Earlier this year, the U.S. National Security Agency announced that it was creating a GitHub profile as part of its Technology Transfer Program.  The intent of the program is to facilitate the commercial development of open-source software to engage and benefit the community while producing superior tools that the government could use, in turn, to benefit the nation further. In theory, it’s a nice way to incorporate the passion and expertise of citizens in the nuts and bolts of government operation. But how has the program panned out since its announcement in the summer?

The NSA’s GitHub Page. Source: https://github.com/nationalsecurityagency.

The NSA currently lists 32 projects, and they cover a wide range of topics with a wide range of applications. A good example is Windows-Event-Log-Messages (WELM). WELM retrieves Windows event log messages embedded in binaries and saves them in discoverable formats. The utility of WELM is obvious: it takes useful, detailed information that may be difficult to access and places it within reach of users. It’s easy to imagine the many applications for this, and all of the projects on the profile have similarly broad applications.


A Sampling of Available Projects. Source: https://nationalsecurityagency.github.io/.

This NSA initiative is just one of several open-source projects sponsored by the U.S. government. The Federal Source Code Policy attempts to streamline software production across the federal government to benefit taxpayers. Data.gov provides reams of information to support the development and distribution of open-source projects that could benefit millions.

Open-source software can be a valuable asset for the development community. What do you think of open-source government initiatives? Is there a project you’re working on that would benefit from these kinds of programs? Let us know in the comments below, or on Facebook or Twitter.

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