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Open Source Policy

An open source team

Skylight is a digital consultancy whose mission is to make government work in a digital world. This requires flexibility in how we code, with a focus on lowering costs and accelerating the delivery of value for government organizations.

Our default position when developing new projects is to:


Using FOSS allows for product customization, advances interoperability between tools, and improves the overall quality of the final product. Other benefits include:

Maximizing community involvement and reuse

Active involvement from the open source community is integral to the success of open source code. Skylight will be an active contributor to FOSS projects that it or its clients utilize.

Code written entirely by Skylight staff will be dedicated to the public domain. In addition, any contracts Skylight enters into, where others will develop software on Skylight’s behalf, will ensure that all results are dedicated to the public domain to the greatest extent practicable. In general, all discussion in this document about the licensing of work of Skylight’s contractors means that Skylight’s will aim to ensure that their contracts guarantee those terms.

Skylight encourages contributions to its open source projects, whether it be code, commentary, bug reports, feature requests, or overall strategic direction.

Forks or clones of our code repositories are free to be re-distributed. This means code created by Skylight can be integrated into work that’s under a more restrictive license, even those that aren’t considered open source licenses.

This changes when our code repositories include code that wasn’t created by Skylight and carries an open license. Code previously released under an open source license and then modified by Skylight or its contractors is considered a “joint work” and must be released under terms permitted by the original open source license.

The public can use our code as the basis of wholly proprietary and commercial systems. Skylight would appreciate that users of our code disclose its lineage, but Skylight maintains no legal right to require disclosure. Notifications that our work is used in a new system are always greatly appreciated.

Open source licenses

As previously mentioned, most work generated at Skylight falls within the public domain.

However, certain projects will require the usage of licensed open source software not created by Skylight. Some open source licenses make source code available under different terms and conditions. These terms and conditions specify how the code may be used, modified, or shared. When users modify Skylight code, they should review and understand the terms of the open source license in question.

Distribution of code

There is a misconception that FOSS that’s distributed to the public should not be integrated or modified for use in sensitive systems. On the contrary, FOSS is often preferred for use in sensitive systems, due in part to its increased auditability. In other words, security in FOSS must be designed never to rely on obscurity in how the code works.

In addition, while open source licenses permit the user to modify FOSS for internal use without obligating them to distribute source code to the public, when the user chooses to distribute the modified FOSS outside the user’s organization, then the code is subject to whatever license it carries.


The only conditions where code shall not be developed and released in the open are:

If an existing solution can’t be found in the open source community, Skylight may consider other options, including creating an open source solution itself. Ultimately, the software that best meets the needs and mission of Skylight should be used.


Skylight would like to thank 18F, and their predecessors, for creating the template for this open source policy.

Future changes

If we decide to change this policy, we’ll update the modification date below.

Updated: April 4, 2017

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