FOSS Government Policy/Preface

Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) has grown incredibly in the past few years. Once considered a hobbyist’s toy, FOSS has grown by leaps and bounds and is now used widely throughout the world, even in critical environments such as financial systems and network backbones.

Governments too, have begun to take notice of this phenomenon. Countries such as Brazil, China, Malaysia, South Africa, and Viet Nam, are implementing nationwide policies or legislation promoting FOSS. While the often-cited cost and stability benefits of FOSS are attractive, governments often choose to promote FOSS in their own countries for a variety of other reasons.

In combination with the other primers in the Free/Open Source Software series, this primer is meant to serve as a resource for nations that are in the process of formulating their FOSS policies. This primer surveys the motivations of countries implementing FOSS, summarizes the steps involved in formulating a policy, lists some possible strategies to use in implementing the policy and touches on cross-sectoral issues unique to FOSS policies. Its target audience is national policy-makers and their advisers.

The primers are brought to you by the International Open Source Network (IOSN), an initiative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)’s Asia-Pacific Development Information Programme (APDIP).

This primer is licensed under an Open Content license [1] and is also available for download from the IOSN website at:


  1. This primer is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 license. Full details of the license can be found at: