California Department of Technology

Bringing free and open source software to government

Project

California FOSS Training

Tech Specs

  • Online training using Zoom
  • In-person training
  • Trello for tracking goals
  • Customized training plan for agency

Background

New open source policy needs agency buy-in

California’s Government Operations Agency has released a new policy requiring California governments to prioritize free and open source software (FOSS) for state IT projects. FOSS allows agencies to maintain ownership of their own IT assets, avoiding the costs and pitfalls of vendor lock-in. It also makes government code available for the public to view, reuse, or improve upon.

The California Department of Technology (CDT), which partners with state and local agencies in delivering digital services, needed help implementing the new FOSS policy. Internal staff needed training to understand the benefits of FOSS adoption and how it would change their jobs. The agency also needed to build a culture of learning and curiosity that would encourage people to get involved in creating better digital products for California.

We meet with agency staff for regular video trainings.
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Approach

Pioneers in FOSS adoption

As leaders and practitioners of free and open source software, CivicActions created a training plan to help CDT pioneer the implementation of the new policy. We provided customized in-person and online training to CDT legal, technical, and procurement staff.

Showing the business value of FOSS

We helped CDT translate the new policy into value propositions to ensure FOSS was adopted in earnest throughout the organization. We showed how free and open source software can increase IT security and allows agencies to make sure their custom code is providing the best value to the public.

Making legal advice palatable

Since FOSS differs from traditional proprietary licensing, we provided training on legal concepts, organizational policies, and compliance strategies. We tailored the training to be useful and understandable to technical and procurement teams, not just legal staff.

Open source best practices will inform new guidelines

We showed CDT how other agencies are successfully using FOSS in the United States and abroad. Building on these best practices, CDT and other agencies can create their own checklists and guidelines for managing FOSS products and contracts going forward.

Building an open culture

We helped CDT create a judgment-free environment where legal, technical, and procurement staff can collaborate and see the value of one another’s efforts. A culture of openness and appreciation facilitates faster adoption of new practices and a FOSS philosophy within the organization.

Software by the people, for the people

Free and open source software helps people see what technology the government is using to serve the public -- and how it can be improved. By creating opportunities to contribute to public sector projects, CDT encourages folks to take ownership and work together to build better digital services for California.

Open code for stronger communities

By embracing FOSS at the state level, CDT makes it easier for California counties and cities to reuse code, lower costs, and increase their own engagement with the public. The state can also bring value to communities and create local jobs by allowing developers to work remotely on open source projects.

Impact

  • Agency is prepared to comply with state policy requiring FOSS adoption
  • Staff builds on open source best practices to create their own guidelines
  • CDT saves money by avoiding the recurring costs of vendor lock-in
  • Technical, legal, and procurement staff gain working knowledge of FOSS
  • Open source code created by CDT can be re-used by counties and cities
  • CDT can verify the security and efficacy of its own code
  • California residents benefit from a more transparent, accountable government

Explore

Discover helpful resources

Resources for managing open source projects

17

high-level CDT execs attended
in-person FOSS training

482

cities in California that
can benefit from FOSS

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