White House: Agencies Must Share Custom Source Code

code

The White House released the Federal Source Code Policy on Monday to help with access to custom software code created for or by the Federal government.

The policy allows source code to be made for sharing and re-use across all agencies, since several agencies have already begun using custom-made source code without restrictions, according to the policy.

The policy also includes a pilot program, which will require agencies to release at least 20 percent of new custom-developed Federal source code to the public and support agencies.

“By making source code available for sharing and re-use across Federal agencies, we can avoid duplicative custom software purchases and promote innovation and collaboration across Federal agencies,” U.S. Chief Information Officer Tony Scott wrote in a blog post. “By opening more of our code to the brightest minds inside and outside of government, we can enable them to work together to ensure that the code is reliable and effective in furthering our national objectives.”

In the past, source code has been made public from projects such as “We the People,” Vets.gov, and Data.gov.

The White House will launch the website Code.gov in the coming months, for agencies to share portions of their source code and for the Office of Management and Budget to assess the agencies’ progress.

With this data the White House will create policies on considerations to be made prior to creating custom code, require agencies to have appropriate government data rights, require agencies to consider the value of publishing custom code as OSS, establish requirements for releasing source code, and provide instructions and resources for this project.

By Nov. 6, CIOs must submit an agencywide policy for addressing these requirements and correct any existing policies that are inconsistent with the new requirements.

“We can do all of this while remaining consistent with the Federal government’s long-standing policy of technology neutrality, through which we seek to ensure that Federal investments in IT are merit-based, improve the performance of our government, and create value for the American people,” Scott wrote. “This is, after all, the people’s code. Explore it. Learn from it. Improve it. Use it to propel America’s next breakthrough in innovation.”

Morgan Lynch
About Morgan Lynch
Morgan Lynch is a Staff Reporter for MeriTalk covering Federal IT and K-12 Education.
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