An Open Source Program Office (OSPO) is an organizational construct, originally developed in technology companies, with dedicated staff who coordinate and support open source activity. When adapted to a university, an OSPO can offer: 1) training and individualized support for faculty, students, and staff who want to grow local software efforts into healthy open source projects, 2) advice on how best to contribute to existing projects, 3) documentation of the value of open source work and 4) facilitation of relationships with other organizational units like technology transfer, research computing, or the library.
This grant funds the establishment of an OSPO at the University of Texas at Austin, co-led by Jennifer Schopf, Angela Newell, Michael Shensky, and James Howison. UT Austin’s planned OPSO will be a collaboration between Campus IT, the UT Libraries, the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC), and the School of Information.
It will structure its activities strategically around a “Participation Pathway” that envisions engaging faculty and students by moving from the basic use of open source software through contribution, sharing, accepting external contributions, and ultimately the development of an ecosystem of related projects. Grant funds will support a portion of the OSPO Director’s time, substantial engagement from two Library-based positions with expertise in open source research software, a pool of trainers to run short bootcamps and courses. We anticipate support for a broad set of faculty-driven open source projects, and the inclusion of additional open source material into several existing support systems on campus. Other funds will support the creation of resources focused on lowering barriers to share and reuse scientific software, including documenting best practices surrounding the containerization, distribution, and deployment of open source software.