Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

01 Jul 2021, 12:58 p.m.

Software Bill of Materials & the US Federal Government

In February, the United States's President Biden signed an executive order on the US's supply chains; he followed this up with an EO in May specifically concentrating on improving cybersecurity. To quote Tidelift's summary, "in essence, this order is a striking attempt to create a new global standard for cybersecurity that all organizations around the world will need to ensure their software supply chain meets or exceeds in the near future."

Because of the EO, the US's National Telecommunications and Information Administration requested comment "on the minimum elements for a Software Bill of Materials (SBOM), and what other factors should be considered in the request, production, distribution, and consumption of SBOMs". I heard about this thanks to Jacob Kaplan-Moss, who suggested the Python Software Foundation could share its open source perspective. So I led an effort to submit a comment on behalf of the Packaging Working Group of the PSF - thanks to Morgan Mayo (PSF Director of Resource Development) for some of the prose!

The Packaging WG comment, along with comments from 80+ other individuals and groups, are now up at the NTIA website. Check out Section II ("Background context about the Python packaging toolchain and ecosystem") for a simplified yet still confusing diagram. Section IV of our comment ("Infrastructure funding") is pretty short; for a longer treatment on a related topic, see Tidelift's comment "Software bills of materials are important—but they won't work at scale if we don't pay the maintainers".