While the Obama administration is all about transparency, the window for the development of applications that make the government more transparent is tiny, said The Sunlight Foundation's Clay Johnson at this morning's O'Reilly OSCON (Open Source Convention) keynote today in San Jose, CA. The window for transparency will begin closing in October as the next election cycle begins. Once closed, it will remain that way until 2012 or 2016, Johnson warned, so open source developers have to act now if they hope to affect policy change. "Open source plus data equals better government," said Johnson, whose keynote focused on The Sunlight Foundation's Apps for America 2 competition for apps to run on top of Data.gov. "Data.gov is our tactical opening to changing procurement procedures," Johnson said.

Transparency and data are the keywords of 2009. One thing that becomes apparent on OSCON’s open source government track is how vast the ecosystem developing open source data-mining, correlation and annotation apps is.

Many issues central government 2.0 and to the open source community have been discussed so far in the conference, including: who truly owns data? does the government embrace open source or fear it? will citizen and government tech be able to seize on the openness of the Obama moment, and if so, what are the challenges?

The discussions so far have been fascinating, and we hope to distill the most relevant and interesting points in the next few articles, so stay tuned.

By Mark Alvarez