Science Policy
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Develop a Digital Technology Fund to secure and sustain open source software

02.09.24 | 3 min read | Text by Sayeed Choudhury

Open source software (OSS) is a key part of essential digital infrastructure. Recent estimates indicate that 95% of all software relies upon open source, with about 75% of the code being directly open source. Additionally, as our science and technology ecosystem becomes more networked, computational, and interdisciplinary, open source software will increasingly be the foundation on which our discoveries and innovations rest.

However, there remain important security and sustainability issues with open source software, as evidenced by recent incidents such as the Log4j vulnerability that affected millions of systems worldwide.

To better address security and sustainability of open source software, the United States should establish a Digital Technology Fund through multi-stakeholder participation.


Open source software — software whose source code is publicly available and can be modified, distributed, and reused by anyone — has become ubiquitous. OSS offers myriad benefits, including fostering collaboration, reducing costs, increasing efficiency, and enhancing interoperability. It also plays a key role in U.S. government priorities: federal agencies increasingly create and procure open source software by default, an acknowledgement of its technical benefits as well as its value to the public interest, national security, and global competitiveness.

Open source software’s centrality in the technology produced and consumed by the federal government, the university sector, and the private sector highlights the pressing need for these actors to coordinate on ensuring its sustainability and security. In addition to fostering more robust software development practices, raising capacity, and developing educational programs, there is an urgent need to invest in individuals who create and maintain critical open source software components, often without financial support. 

The German Sovereign Tech Fund — launched in 2021 to support the development and maintenance of open digital infrastructure — recently announced such support for the maintainers of Log4j, thereby bolstering its prospects for timely, secure production and sustainability. Importantly, this is one example of numerous that require similar support. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security (CISA)’s director Jen Easterly has affirmed the importance of OSS while noting its security vulnerabilities as a national security concern. Easterly rightly called upon moving the responsibility and support for critical OSS components away from individuals to the organizations that benefit from those individuals’ efforts.


To address these challenges, the United States should establish a Digital Technology Fund to provide direct and indirect support to OSS projects and communities that are essential for the public interest, national security, and global competitiveness. The Digital Technology Fund would be funded by a coalition of federal, private, academic, and philanthropic stakeholders and would be administered by an independent nonprofit organization.

To better understand the risks and opportunities:

To encourage multi-stakeholder participation and support

To launch the Digital Tech Fund:

The realized and potential impact of open source software is transformative in terms of next-generation infrastructure, innovation, workforce development, and artificial intelligence safety. The Digital Tech Fund can play an essential and powerful role in raising our collective capacity to address important security and sustainability challenges by acknowledging and supporting the pioneering individuals who are advancing open source software.

To learn more about the importance of opening science and to read the rest of the published memos, visit the Open Science Policy sprint landing page.