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Policies to promote Open Source Software

This topic provides information about the Government of India's policies for promotion and use of Open Source Softwares by government agencies.

The Government of India (GoI) is implementing the Digital India programme as an umbrella programme to prepare India for a knowledge based transformation into a digitally empowered society and a knowledge economy. Under the overarching vision of Digital India, GoI aims to make Government services digitally accessible to citizens in their localities and to ensure efficiency, transparency and reliability of such services at affordable costs. To meet this objective, there is a need to set up a commensurate hardware and software infrastructure, which may require significant resources.

Organizations worldwide have adopted innovative alternative solutions in order to optimise costs by exploring avenues of “Open Source Software”. GoI has also been promoting the use of open source technologies in the e-Governance domain within the country in order to leverage economic and strategic benefits.

Further, the National Policy on Information Technology, 2012 has mentioned, as one of its objectives, to “Adopt open standards and promote open source and open technologies".

In view of the above, several policies have been formulated for the Government Organizations to adopt Open Source Software.

Policy on Adoption of Open Source Software for Government of India

Objectives

  • To provide a policy framework for rapid and effective adoption of OSS
  • To ensure strategic control in e-Governance applications and systems from a long-term perspective.
  • To reduce the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of projects.

Policy statement

Government of India shall endeavour to adopt Open Source Software in all e-Governance systems implemented by various Government organizations, as a preferred option in comparison to Closed Source Software (CSS). The Open Source Software shall have the following characteristics:

  • The source code shall be available for the community / adopter/ end-user to study and modify the software and to redistribute copies of either the original or modified software.
  • Source code shall be free from any royalty.

Nature of Compliance

Mandatory

Applicability

The policy shall be applicable to all Government Organisations under the Central Governments and those State Governments that choose to adopt this policy for the following categories of e-Governance systems:

  • All new e-Governance applications and systems being considered for implementation.
  • New versions of the legacy and existing systems

How to comply

All Government Organizations, while implementing e-Governance applications and systems must include a specific requirement in Request for Proposal (RFP) for all suppliers to consider OSS along with CSS while responding. Suppliers shall provide justification for exclusion of OSS in their response, as the case may be. Government Organizations shall ensure compliance with this requirement and decide by comparing both OSS and CSS options with respect to capability, strategic control, scalability, security, life-time costs and support requirements.

Exception

GoI shall endeavour to adopt Open Source Software in all e -Governance applications and systems implemented by Government Organizations. However, in certain specialised domains where OSS solutions meeting essential functional requirements may not be available or in case of urgent / strategic need to deploy CSS based solutions or lack of expertise (skill set) in identified technologies, the concerned Government Organization may consider exceptions, with sufficient justification.

Implementation Mechanism

  • GoI shall publish a policy framework for rapid and effective adoption of OSS covering the prioritization of the application areas and illustrative list of OSS & OSS Stacks etc, required for various functional areas.
  • All future Requests for Proposals (RFPs) of e-Governance projects shall include a mandatory clause for considering Open Source Software (OSS) as a preferred option in comparison to Closed Source Software (CSS). Suppliers shall provide justification for exclusion of OSS in their response.Government Organizations shall ensure compliance with this requirement and decide by comparing both OSS and CSS options with respect to capability, strategic control, scalability, security, life-time costs and support requirements.
  • GoI shall establish suitable support mechanism for the available OSS that includes Institutional Mechanism, Partnership with Industry, Academia and OSS Community.
  • GoI shall actively collaborate with OSS communities in India as well as at the International level and contribute wherever appropriate.

Policy On Collaborative Application Development by Opening the Source Code of Government Applications

Brief description

The policy intends to increase the pace of e-governance application development and rapid roll-out/implementation by adopting an open-source development model. The Government of India wants to promote re-use of existing developed applications. By opening the source code, the Govt. of India wants successful, scalable, high-quality eGov applications to be developed in a collaborative manner. It also wants new applications to be developed to encourage creativity — both inside and outside the Government by encouraging collaborative development between Govt. departments/agencies and private organizations, citizens and developers to create innovative eGov applications and solutions.

eGov application source open approach including the use and release of application source code to public can reduce costs and development time and improve the overall quality and security through increased transparency and mass peer review.

Objective

The Policy is designed with the objective of promoting reuse, standardization, innovation, quality improvement and cost saving s through collaboration and avoidance of duplication.

Target audience

All Central and State Government Departments , and other Government Agencies providing public services electronically , Government & private organizations engaged by Government departments, other application developers, OEMs, Audit Agencies etc.

Applicability

This policy is applicable to all software applications/ components/ products whose IPR are held by any Government entity and which the concerned Government entity considers suitable for making the source code public. This policy will be in force for all software application development exercises initiated after the effective date of this policy. This policy will apply to all software application development efforts, whether in - house or through a software development agency. Applicability of this policy on software applications/ components developed prior to the effective date of this policy is desirable but not mandatory. Any procurement exercise for software application/ component/ application development services should give due consideration to this policy and the intent behind it.

This policy is not applicable on software applications/ components/ products utilized or implemented for projects/organizations of national strategic importance and for those projects / applications that may have security  implications. The policy does not apply to Commercial off the Shelf (COTS) software.

Policy Statement

Government of India shall adopt uniform policy towards collaborative application development by opening the source code of Government applications to ensure a new and agile way of developing software, reuse and rapid roll out to other Government domains.

  • The Government will have full rights to custom - built software source code for any application developed by any Government agency or by private agencies funded by the Government.
  • If it is a COTS product, then the Government will have full rights on any customization code on the COTS product if it is procured by the Government. The Government shall have the right to reuse the customization code for any other Govt. department or entity if required. What components/code/modules constitute 'customizations on COTS' will be specified in the contract be tween the Government and the agency doing the customization.
  • If any agency customizes the source code or add s any modules or plug - ins to a particular Government custom - built application or customization code on COTS, the Government reserves the full rights of the source code of the add on modules , plug - ins or customization code.
  • In case an already successfully running application in the Government, whose code is opened and whose IP is owned by Government, needs to be rolled out by private agencies on a commercial basis for any other Government Department/Agency, code changes to the application source code is permissible, but Government reserves full rights to the source code of the modified application.
  • All Government application source code to be developed will be shared on the Collaborative Application Development Platform. To provide an effective and reliable platform for open source development, this Collaborative Application Development Platform shall have proper control mechanisms, version management and policies on verification/validation of the codes w.r.t required functionality, security, performance, design, coding practices and other necessary attributes.
  • While evaluating any new software for development or purchase by any Government entity, preference should be given to software already available in the Collaborative Application Development Platform.
  • The policy does not mandate already developed monolithic applications to open their application source code on the Collaborative Application Development Platform, However, it is recommend ed that the application source code and the object code with installation script, installation document, database schema and any other documents be shared in the Collaborative Application Development Platform after due quality and security check s will be laid in the guidelines by Government of India. These guidelines would also address governance framework, operational processes, application maturity assessment models, application sustainability models, licensing policy etc. for the Collaborative Application Development platform.
  • The future procurement process es of the Government projects should ensure that the Government receives the source code and unlimited rights of custom - built application development . In case of COTS product, the contract clause s should secure full rights to customisation code developed on the Commercial Off The Shelf product. The rights should cover reuse of customization code anywhere else in the Government or public sector.
  • The policy does not restrict /prohibit any private/ Government entity’s commercial interest either in development or implementation and support of Government applications. The commercial terms can be worked out between the concerned Government Departments and Agencies and solution providers on mutually agreed terms. The policy only that the application source code be open ed for larger interest of rapid roll out and value addition to the application software through collaborative approach of development.
  • The policy does not impose any obligation o n contributor s to the source open Government projects to provide support if the application/ component is downloaded for reuse by others. It is recommended that contributors should help others in improving the code or during its re - use, but this is not binding.

Policy on Open Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) for Government of India

The Policy will encourage the formal use of Open APIs in Government organizations. This policy sets out the Government’s approach on the use of “Open API s” to promote software interoperability for all e- Governance applications & systems and provide access to data & services for promoting participation of all stakeholders including citizens.

Objectives

The objectives of this policy are to:

  • Ensure that APIs are published by all Government organisations for all e - Governance applications and systems .
  • Enable quick and transparent integration with other e -Governance applications and systems .
  • Enable safe and reliable sharing of information and data across various e-Governance applications and systems .
  • Promote and expedite innovation through the availability of data from e- Governance applications and systems to the public.
  • Provide guidance to Government organizations in developing, publishing and implementation using these Open APIs.

Policy Statement

Government of India shall adopt Open APIs to enable quick and transparent integration with other e- Governance applications and systems implemented by various Government organizations, thereby providing access to data & services and promoting citizen participation for the benefit of the community. The Open APIs shall have the following characteristics for publishing and consumption:

  • The relevant information being provided by all Government organisations through their respective e- Governance applications shall be open and machine readable.
  • All the relevant information and data of a Government organisation shall be made available by Open APIs, as per the classification given in the National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy (NDSAP -2012), so that the public can access information and data .
  • All Open APIs built and data provided, shall adhere to National Cyber Security Policy.
  • The Government organizations shall make sure that the Open APIs are stable and scalable.
  • All the relevant information, data and functionalities within an Governance application or system of a Government organisation shall be made available to other e- Governance applications and systems through Open API s which should be platform and language independent .
  • A Government organisation consuming the data and information from other e- Governance applications and systems using Open APIs shall undertake information handling, authentication and authorisation through a process as defined by the API publishing Organisation.
  • Each published API of a Government organization shall be provided free of charge whenever possible to other Government organization s and public.
  • Each published API shall be properly documented with sample code and sufficient information for developer s to make use of the API.
  • The life -cycle of the Open API shall be made available by the API publishing Government organisation. The API shall be backward compatible wit h at least two earlier versions.
  • All Open API systems built and data provided shall adhere to GoI security policies and guidelines.
  • Government organizations may use an authentication mechanism to enable service interoperability and single sign -on.

Nature of Compliance

Mandatory

Applicability

The policy shall be applicable to all Government organisations under the Central Government and those State Governments that choose to adopt this policy for the following categories of e- Governance systems:

  • All new e -Governance applications and systems being considered for implementation.
  • New versions of the legacy and existing systems.

Implementation Mechanism

  • GoI shall formulate detailed implementation guidelines for rapid and effective adoption of the policy.
  • Government organisations shall publish the APIs so that the public can access relevant information and data from e -Governance applications and systems.
  • Government organisations shall publish the API s for integrating with their e-Governance applications and systems .
  • Government organisations shall integrate with the e-Governance applications and systems of other departments through the messaging gateway built on open standards by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
  • Government organisations shall ensure compliance with notified GoI standards for developing APIs.
  • GoI shall constitute an Implementation Committee for facilitating the implementation of this policy and its provisions thereof .
  • GoI shall establish suitable support mechanism to facilitate API management.
  • All Government organizations, while implementing e- Governance applications and systems, must include a specific requirement in the Request for Proposal (RFP) to publish the APIs to public and other Government organizations.

Source : MeitY

Related Resources

  1. Policy on Adoption of Open Source Software for Government of India
  2. National Policy on Information Technology, 2012
  3. Framework For Adoption of Open Source Software In e - Governance Systems
  4. Policy On Collaborative Application Development by Opening the Source Code of Government Applications
  5. Policy on Open Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) for Government of India
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