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Nestled hundreds of pages into the proposed bill to fund the Department of Defense sits a small, unassuming section. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 is the engine that powers the Pentagon, turning legislative will into tangible cash for whatever Congress can fit inside. Thanks to an amendment introduced by Sen. Mike Rounds of (R-SD) and co-sponsored by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), this year the NDAA could institute a big change: should the bill pass in its present form, the Pentagon will be going open source.

“Open source” is the industry term for using publicly accessible code, published for all to see and read. It’s contrasted with “closed source” or “proprietary” code, which a company guards closely as a…

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