Dries Buytaert: How governments can help sustain Open Source

Yesterday I wrote about why software funded with tax dollars should be Open Source. Based on the feedback in email and social media, lots of people seem to agree.

Today, I want to highlight how this could be a game changer for Open Source sustainability.

Using Drupal as an example, let’s do some quick math. Imagine if:

  • 1,000 government agencies around the world (federal, state, or local) spend an average of $300,000 a year on their Drupal sites.
  • 5% of that investment results in Open Source contributions.

Even if these numbers are conservative, it would lead to $15 million in annual contributions to Drupal: 1,000 x $300,000 x 0.05 = $15,000,000. That could be 150 full-time contributors each year.

In other words, requiring public code in government could be Open Source’s best funding mechanism.