The Department of Defense (DoD) launches Code.mil, an open source initiative that allows software developers around the world to collaborate on unclassified code written by federal employees in support of DoD projects. DoD is working with GitHub to experiment with fostering more collaboration between private sector software developers and federal employees on software projects built within the DoD. The Code.mil URL redirects users to an online repository that will house code written for a range of projects across DoD for individuals to review and make suggested changes.
Another objective for Code.mil is to create a network of peers between the federal government and the developer community to encourage participation, share knowledge, and make connections in support of DoD programs that ultimately service our national security.
The Code.mil initiative is headed by the Defense Digital Service (DDS), a team of self-described nerds who come in on short stints from companies such as Google, Amazon, and Netflix to work on problems impacting DoD. DDS was established in 2015 to bring private sector best practices, talent, and technology into the department. DDS is Current projects include “Hack the Pentagon,” Next Generation GPS (OCX) and Defense Travel System modernization.
DoD faces unique challenges in open sourcing its code. Code written by federal government employees typically does not have copyright protections under U.S. and some international laws, which creates difficulties in attaching open source licenses. Code.mil is experimenting with a legal pathway of using contract law in the Defense Open Source Agreement to add commonly used licenses to DoD software projects. DDS consulted with the Open Source Initiative and Free Software Foundation on devising a comprehensive approach to both open and free software.