FOSS Audit- Use A Checklist

Sejong University,Seoul
Sejong University,Seoul

As discussed in my last post, a Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) audit  ( or Open Source Software  (OSS) audit) is necessary for a company’s full and frank appraisal of its FOSS program.  In essence, a FOSS audit is a major component to a FOSS compliance program which many companies need to establish if they want to avoid serious FOSS violations.  Though some companies, especially technology based companies, believe they have a robust FOSS compliance program- many do not.  FOSS compliance involves many departments in an organization, each department or division using numerous processes to comply with FOSS requirements.

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As in most process audits,  using a checklist containing basic process oriented questions is a practical method  to help conduct a FOSS audit.  A FOSS audit checklist, a good legal risk management ( LRM) tool , can be quite exhaustive.  Therefore, in this post I list approx 20 main questions that should be on any FOSS related checklist.  These questions, which are set forth in Phillip Kolton’s white paper- “Keys to Managing a FOSS Compliance Program” found on the Linux.com website can be used to help any organization with FOSS concerns to assess its FOSS program as well as its selection of suppliers and vendors.  This is especially  true if the organization is concerned about third party software in a product it is about to release.  Among the questions any checklist should contain are:

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1.  Has the product team disclosed all FOSS used in the development cycle?

2. Has the product development team  or relevant department identified all FOSS used in the product that is being developed?

3. Has the product development team conducted an audit of its own use of FOSS , and if so, what are the  development team’s findings?

4. Has the company required all vendors and suppliers to establish a FOSS compliance program that is similar in scope to the company’s?

5. Has the company or organization identified conditions or situations which would require a new FOSS audit?

6.  Are suppliers required to identify any and all FOSS related software?

7.  Does the company periodically review all open source tools to assess the costs and benefits of using FOSS?

8. Does the organization require a review of all FOSS realted software and processes?

9. Is there a FOSS review board to review and approve all FOSS planned in products?

10.  Is the FOSS review baord : (i) staffed with the approriate people?, (ii) does it have resources to review and implement FOSS requirements?,(iii) does it use an independent analysis to confirm FOSS content?, and (iv) does it have authority to approve proposed FOSS use?

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11.  Does the organization assure that its third party suppliers provide all information to confirm all FOSS obligations have been met?

12. Does the organization place into a software repository the complete source code corresponding exactly to each FOSS package used in a product release?

13. What processes are in place to assess hether all FOSS license obligations have been fullfilled or planned into project schedules in time for the product release?

14.Does the organization have a process that enables it to respond in a timely manner to all external compliance requests?

15. Are external complaince requests tracked?

16. Are metrics reported to management on a regular basis?

17. Does the  company or organization have a policy that addresses the roles and responsibilities of the various departments or teams for FOSS compliance actions?

18. Does the company provide training to all employees in order to understand the importance of FOSS.

19. Does the organization have a FOSS compliance management process?

20. Does the organization or company have a process that documents all FOSS activities?

A well prepared checklist can facilitate a thorough FOSS audit which is a vital component of any FOSS compliance program.  It is another example of the many LRM tools a company can use to identlfy, mitigate and transfer legal risk.

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