Open Source Coordination Services

The Open source coordination services project assists the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Office of Information & Technology (OIT) Enterprise Program Management Office (EPMO) Lean Systems Engineering Tools Management and Open Source Division (“Open Source Coordination team”) with the enhancement development programming of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) redaction utility, and its sustainment. The FOIA redaction utility supports desensitization of VA Information Technology products, and related artifacts.

In addition, ProSphere supports the Open Source Coordination team through the following activities:

  • Policy Development – We have authored several recommendations addressing open source software regulation and implementation within VA. Specifically, we have drafted and delivered the following documents:
  • The Open Source Policy Memorandum supplements the previous Consideration of Open Source Software (VAIQ# 7532631) Memorandum dated November 4, 2014, issued by the OIT Executive in Charge and Chief Information Officer (CIO). It clarifies existing requirements and provides additional guidance for the evaluation of open source software solutions when VA acquires software.
    • The VA Software FOIA and Open Source Software Release Policy provides guidance on redaction requirements and protocols to engage the EPMO Open Source Coordination team prior to releasing software and/or artifacts outside VA, including responses to FOIA requests, releases to VA Software Document Library (VDL) in keeping with the Electronic Freedom of Information Act Amendments of 1996, and external release of custom-developed VA software through the Code in Flight (CIF) program.
    • The VA FOIA Software Repository Management Policy establishes requirements regarding the use, access, and general administration of VA external open source software repositories.
    • The VA Open Source Policy Recommendation on Open Source Community Collaborative Development provides overarching principles that guide the rules of engagement for VA Project Managers and software development teams (including contractors) when collaborating with the open source community on the development of open source software.
    • The Software Development and Documentation for Redaction Technical Standard has been updated to include additional recommendations on programming and documentation techniques to minimize the need for FOIA redaction in software and electronic artifacts.
  • Communications Support – We provide content on a bi-annual basis for webinar training, and author monthly newsletters to disseminate key information within VA, on open source topics.
  • Technical Analysis Support – Using the FOIA redaction utility, we desensitize VA Information Technology project’s artifacts, including project schedules, functional specifications, business process modeling documents, software design documents, security artifacts, user documentation, and software source and executable code by removing security/licensing-related content. Desensitized content is published to a location designated by the Open Source Coordination team, based on the status of the software project and the source of the request. In addition, we continually update and deliver business rules/search criteria in order to more easily identify redactable content in VA Information Technology products, and to minimize the impacts of redaction on the executable functions of the software when used outside VA.

We use the following tools in the execution of work on this project: Oracle Primavera, International Business Machines (IBM) Rational Tools, and Microsoft SharePoint. The current FOIA Redaction utility is written primarily in American National Standards Institute (ANSI)-M and runs in a VistA environment.

What we’ve achieved in support of the Department of Veterans Affairs

Since the commencement of the project in September 2015 and as of the end of March 2017, we have helped to desensitize at least 72 VA Information Technology projects’ artifacts (67 projects’ artifacts have been released to the open source community). We are in the process of deploying the FOIA redaction utility to the web, so that it is available to all IT project teams within VA. We have also delivered webinar training content on the following topics:

  • Open Source Software (OSS) Licensing which provides an overview of popular OSS licensing options along with associated limitations and restrictions, drivers to choosing a license, and includes suggestions to stay compliant with OSS licenses.
  • Open Source at VA which provides an overview of open source at VA, including a brief history of VistA, the Code in Flight (CIF) program, and impacts to VA projects. It also outlines the role of the EPMO Open Source Coordination team as part of the CIF program.
  • Parsing the Federal Source Code Policy which reviews the history/background of the policy, and provides a breakdown of the policy’s objectives and scope – considerations in the acquisition of software, facilitating government-wide code reuse, and facilitating open source community participation.
  • VA Open Source Policies which reviews the requirements of VA’s open source policies.

Explore Our Work:

VA Open Source Coordination Services