back to article Help a US gov't agency switch to open source, win $3 million

The US Department of Veterans Affairs is looking to upgrade the 25-year-old software that powers its nationwide health care system, and it's betting real money that open source is the way to do it. To that end, the agency is sponsoring a contest in which three entrants will be awarded prizes of up to $3m each, provided they …


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  1. MacRat

    Not "open" to International?

    While I understand the politics of this being limited to US citizens, I think they will be missing out on a lot of experience from developers in other countries which have much more experience in this field.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not "open" to International?

      Not sure of your point MacRat, but define "much more experience". Once you cut into the the minds of the open source fanatics, true gurus of it, you realize they don't give a shit where you're from. Genius is chaos, chaos grows everywhere! These types have grown all over, quite a few in the USA, at least more than you think.

      I do wondering about the limitation of it being US citizens though. Being a US citizen myself, I'm all for keeping money here in my homeland (especially today), however, what if the code was written by a non-American citizen? I understand that citizen of a foreign country won't and probably doesn't expect payment, but you do have to list their name. With this being a Veterans group pushing this, I'm damn sure they won't allow the contributors name to be omitted. So I do wonder how that will be handled.

      Now as far as the effort itself, I'm not surprised at all a Veterans group pushing for open source, not 1 bit. I just hope they get what they want out of it, and not some fly-by-night "3 Million, oh yeh sure we are open source" crew. However, with open source being just as open voiced, finding a reputable crew to take on the job shouldn't be hard at all.

      1. MacRat

        Re: Not "open" to International?

        I was referring to developers outside the US who have actually BUILT an open source heath care system that is IN USE by their country.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not "open" to International?

          Oh, so you want the job. I'm sorry, I didn't understand you were one of the developers of the apparent in use system. Promoting one's self is good. Give them a call then, "Fake it 'till you make it."

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Not "open" to International?

      You can enter, but you can't win the prize.

  2. Chris_Maresca

    While I understand the motivation...

    ... it might be a lot easier & cheaper to just license MedSphere, which is built on an open-source version of Vista EHR and is fully commercial supported.

  3. koolholio

    All must be fully open

    But must run on a valid, licensed "copy" of Windows

    Ahaha you're havin' a laugh!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apache is at 2.4 these days?

  5. dssf


    From Vista to OpenVista:

    In the spirit of Open Source, if it is going to be so seleccted, then please, please ensure that it runs neutrally on tablets and phones, and not on any one platform. Specifically, and deliberately, I feel compelled to say, "buy American" should NOT apply if all it results in is Apple devices winning that section of development. If that happens, then hospitals, clinics, paramedics, other first responders, and even audit agencies may all be coerced into dumping Android-based systems, even if they are on hardware designed by US firms/entities/corporations. At the same time, some schlocky/slapped-together- domestic hardware should also be disqualified if the software it runs won't run on Apple or anything other than itself. The devss really need to look at Eclipse, KDevelop, Trolltech's successors, wxWidgets, or whatever is OS-agnostic. IIUC, the truly OS-agfnostic developer tools compile from a general starting or development stage, and then only the most minimal of OS-specific bits may compile but not break the overall functionality, continuity, or value of the app. This probably means that Apple & Windows-centric devs ought not/need not apply unless they guarantee the VA a truly OS-agnostic tool. I feel the VA MUST not just should demand or amend the challenge to be a result that is OS-agnostic, if that is not already stated. By OS-agnostic, I mean that the base backup, server, maintenance, and forward-going baseline app must compile at the push of a button to the target OS, but absolutely must not play games with the data, must be accessible from clients of the other 2 or 3 OS types, and must be able to roll back to a stable version and then be compiled forward to a differing OS target in case economic soundness calls for reducing the deployment of a specific OS or hardware type.

    In the name/spirit of HIPAA, the VA probably should say (and I suspect some politicians will demand), that the hardware that may be ancillary or accessory or required to go with any software winning the prize MUST be "Made in the USA". This of course being to reduce fears that special forces retirees or actives should not fear nor have to fear backdoors in chips or in code. I am assuming that that is the unspoken part of the "Must be a corporation... Principally operating in the USA..." code language.

    For you enterprising types who are in the USA, search Google for "medical database schema", and also look at the schemas and HIPAA requirements. No point in trying to enter and compete if not enough security is baked in right at the beginning.

    And, be mindful of how much risk may be involved depending on the amount of Java and JavaScript are injected into the project.

    Not that I have any real say in any of this, even though I am a subje... Umm, by-birth citizen of the USA.

    Good Luck!

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: OpenVista/MedSphere

      Ah yes that old "Buy American" schtick.

      So do you buy the Chevrolet made by Daewoo in Korea by Korean workers using 100% Korean parts, or the Toyota made in Kentucky by USA workers using mostly USA parts and a USA design?

      If you're the average USA govt buyer, apparently the Chevrolet wins every time.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    The single largest and most recognized user of MUMPS

    "The single largest and most recognized user of MUMPS is the Department of Veterans Affairs"

  7. Nate Amsden


    stinks of some cheap ass management who thinks they can save a lot based on only open stuff. While they can save. The savings they are hoping for in this contest is beyond delusional.

    reminds me of a vp I used to work for.

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