Why Congress should invest in open-source software

“Although such direct investment is one way to encourage positive, effective outcomes, there are additional cost-effective methods that require less upfront capital outlay. For example, my recent research has shown that changing federal procurement regulations that favor FOSS over proprietary software can have numerous positive spillovers to the private sector, including increases in company productivity, the number of technology startups founded, and the size of the technology-related labor force. This research shows that the passage of such a law in France led to as much as an 18% increase in the founding of French IT-related startups and as much as a 14% increase in the number of French workers employed in IT-related jobs.

While some FOSS contributors are paid by their employer to contribute, most contributions to FOSS are made without direct compensation. Therefore, another option is to provide tax credits to the people who volunteer their free time to help create and maintain FOSS. A bill for such a credit has been introduced in the New York State Assembly every legislative session since 2009 but has never made it out of committee. If passed, this bill would provide a $200 tax credit for expenses related to FOSS development, which would help incentivize more individuals to contribute, likely leading to spillover benefits for the state of New York similar to those from the French procurement regulation….”