Which Open Source Platform Is Used by More .gov Sites and Why
by David Aponovich
It is no surprise that open source technologies find widespread favor in governments. This is true for both server-side and client-side operations. In fact, many widely used web technologies were created and fine-tuned in government organizations.
Governments have unique requirements from their software solutions. Unlike private enterprises, there is no short-term liquidity event on the horizon for government agencies. Governments have to make judicious, long-term tech choices, which is why open source curries such favor in the public sector.
As this list of CMSs indicates, The inclination is growing toward open source technology in government agencies. Although legacy software still acts as the CMS for many agencies, an increasing number are switching to Drupal, and it’s easy to see why. Open source technology includes several features perfectly suited for the rigorous demands of a government setting:
- Productivity: The primary purpose of software is to unlock productivity gains. Since open source is already woven deeply into the web, these gains are easier to unlock because less time is wasted in integrating platforms with the supporting back end, ensuring compliance with open data, and so on.
- Scalability: A government-focused platform must scale to accommodate tens of millions of users. Open source platforms already battle tested in large organizations have a better chance of serving these needs.
- Cost-effectiveness: Governments must make more judicious use of taxpayer money when compared to their private counterparts. Open source technology, because it is free, helps a lot in this regard.
- Flexibility: Government platforms need to be flexible enough for different use cases spread over decades. An open source platform, such as Drupal, comes with a library of additional modules, plus open source code that can be molded to fit present and future needs.
- Longevity: Government technology plans are mapped out for years ahead. With legacy systems, there is always a possibility the software might not be supported in five years (due to company failure or acquisition). Open source software will continue to be supported as long as developers keep using it.
- Security: Protecting critical data against theft is a crucial requirement for governments. Because it is so widely deployed, open source technology is also widely tested against security vulnerabilities. This makes it significantly more secure than many legacy solutions.
- Skill availability: The more niche a skill, the harder it is to find suitable talent. Governments often run into a skill gap when using legacy solutions. Since open source technologies enjoy widespread developer support, it is usually easier to find the right talent.
Although legacy solutions might be better in certain cases, for a vast majority of government needs, an open source CMS is not just adequate, but recommended.
This is the third post in a series on Open Source Government. In previous posts, we discussed why open source is driving digital transformation in government, and how open source digital platforms enable greater citizen engagement.