A new D.C.organization has come into existence:
So far, so good. For companies to support Free & Open Source Software (FOSS) is a legitimate business choice, a mechanism by which they engage in cooperative efforts to commoditize the software portion of the hardware/software/service package so as to leave more profits for the other two parts, or scope to sell complementary offerings. Software-focused companies, such as Microsoft, have a mirroring strategy of commoditizing hardware and reducing the need for services so as to make the software portion of the package more valuable.
So there is no problem here as long as the advocacy is limited to touting the benefits of FOSS as a business approach -- even Microsoft hops on this bus occasionally -- and advocating a level playing field. Users, including governments, should indeed consider whether FOSS provides them with the best products at the lowest total cost of ownership.
Problems could arise, though, because FOSS has always had an ideological as well as a business side, and quite a few members of the OSA Steering Committee are from this side of the movement. So OSA could easily segue into lobbying for FOSS based on ideological rather than commercial arguments. It will be interesting to see how the "level playing field" language works out in practice.
Dana Blanklenhorn of ZDNet takes a candidly cynical view of the enterprise, with the headline "Open source actively lobbies for a piece of the federal pie," and the observation:
The key player here, however, is Sun Microsystems. People affiliated with Sun and its contracting unit, SunFederal, dominate the group. This is not obvious just looking at their board of directors, but a little Google work brings it into focus.