Help us Open Source NASA.gov

| The use of open source software, cloud computing technologies, and an integrated approach to search, video, and social media seems almost common-place in industry these days. Yet government websites aren’t quite there with the exception of a few noteable exceptions (not an exhaustive list by any means). This is why I’m so excited about that NASA has […]

The use of open source software, cloud computing technologies, and an integrated approach to search, video, and social media seems almost common-place in industry these days. Yet government websites aren’t quite there with the exception of a few noteable exceptions (not an exhaustive list by any means). This is why I’m so excited about that NASA has recently released an RFI (Request for Information) for information on how to build a better public website nasa.gov and intranet insdie.nasa.gov. This is a really big step for NASA, but,we truly need your help.

This is how it works. NASA has released an RFI and draft statement of work. An RFI, or request for information, is a standard government acquisition process in which vendors submit information that is then used for comparative purposes to help NASA later release an RFP, or request for proposal. An RFI helps NASA

  • Conduct market research to identify what kinds of product or service solutions are commercially available
  • Ask industry to offer solutions for agency requirements or objectives
  • Collect information about relevant companies, their capabilities, products, and experience

nasa.gov is a very high profile website with more around 600,000 unique visitors and 43 million “hits” per day. The architecture itself is massive, with roughly 140 disparate websites and web applications and more total 700,000 web pages across 10 centers. It’s no small job and we need someone who can help usher us into the future and develop a web architecture appropriate for an agency like NASA. This is one of the greatest jobs on Earth and we are looking to you to help.

If you are interested in helping us, the first step is simple. Respond to the RFI. We are looking for companies and organizations that are visionary, that get open source, cloud computing, and citizen engagement using the latest online technology.

Here’s the catch. You don’t have much time to respond. RFI responses must be submitted no later than 3:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on March 6, 2012! For all the details check out the announcement here.  Luke Fretwell at FedScoop also wrote a good article summarizing the highlights and includes an embed of the main documents.


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  • Alessandro Nisticò

    Is this open to USA only companies/citizens?

  • Rick Niles

    I left government employment at NASA/GSFC in 2000 because I couldn’t get any software we worked on at NASA released as open source.  In particular, there was one well respected engineer that was near retirement.  His one request is that we open source his model that he has supported for more than 20 years at NASA.  I worked for more than a month to clean things up and we worked together to write documentation and got it done shortly before his retirement.  The public release office turned down our request to release it because they were confused about what this open source/Free software thing was all about.   It really broke both our hearts.   I’m sure someone still has a copy.  It’s not too late to do the right thing and release it as the author would want.   It would help other researchers and even serve as an important learning tool.

  • Malcolm Greaves

    @ Bob Gerardy I do not deny the essence of your argument — that software must be selected on a basis for its ability to solve the problem at hand — but I do deny your claim that software is a minor part of the cost of a system. NASA needs to cut costs. Purchasing software that does task X instead of free software that does X is an obvious waste of money. The fact is that most reliable, good open source software is also free. Thus, these RFIs for open source solutions will most likely elicit responses for free open source solutions. 

  • Elliot González

    @Bob Gerardy.  Although software is a minor part of the cost, one can not assure that using “Open Source is to ask for a bad result”. So, then, those Super Computers (www.top500.org), stock exchanges (NYSE, LSE, etc), governments and companies like Amazon, Google, Oracle, IBM, HP, Facebook , etc., would be doing badly by implementing Open Source solutions (mainly Linux) on their systems.

  • http://www.nissanpacific.com eDDi Hughes

    I smell WordPress!!!!!

  • http://twitter.com/DrDaddyBob Bob Gerardy

    Software is a minor part of the cost of such a system development. There is plenty of software, open and closed source that can be used. To prejudice the procurement from the beginning for open source is to ask for a bad result. You need to determine what you want, then worry about software that will accomplish that.

  • http://twitter.com/DrDaddyBob Bob Gerardy

    Software is a minor part of the cost of such a system development. There is plenty of software, open and closed source that can be used. To prejudice the procurement from the beginning for open source is to ask for a bad result. You need to determine what you want, then worry about software that will accomplish that.

  • http://profiles.google.com/healthyelijah Elijah Lynn

    This is great news and very encouraging!

    There are some great Drupal shops that get open source, cloud computing, and citizen engagement plus use the most bleeding edge (and stable) technology, of course we know that http://www.whitehouse.gov is built on Drupal as well.  Here is a video on what they did - http://drupal.org/whitehouse-gov-launches-on-drupal-engages-community and another article here by Tim O’Reilly  http://radar.oreilly.com/2009/10/whitehouse-switch-drupal-opensource.htmlA few of the Druapl Shops are Chapter Three (CTO is creator of Pantheon), Four Kitchens, Palantir, Lullabot & Acquia. I would highly recommend submitting your RFI to them as well. 

    Here is Nick’ post on G+ the Google+ folks to share (how I discovered this page) - https://plus.google.com/u/0/118245582992926562637/posts/TTBjBfvD3G8

  • http://profiles.google.com/healthyelijah Elijah Lynn

    This is great news and very encouraging!

    There are some great Drupal shops that get open source, cloud computing, and citizen engagement plus use the most bleeding edge (and stable) technology, of course we know that http://www.whitehouse.gov is built on Drupal as well.  Here is a video on what they did - http://drupal.org/whitehouse-gov-launches-on-drupal-engages-community and another article here by Tim O’Reilly  http://radar.oreilly.com/2009/10/whitehouse-switch-drupal-opensource.htmlA few of the Druapl Shops are Chapter Three (CTO is creator of Pantheon), Four Kitchens, Palantir, Lullabot & Acquia. I would highly recommend submitting your RFI to them as well. 

    Here is Nick’ post on G+ the Google+ folks to share (how I discovered this page) - https://plus.google.com/u/0/118245582992926562637/posts/TTBjBfvD3G8