White House Releases Open-Data Proposal

The White House is encouraging Federal software collaboration and improvement with the software draft policy it  released on Thursday. The policy would require software developed by or for the Federal government to be made available for sharing and improvement across Federal agencies.

The proposed policy is being released for public comment, which matches the desire expressed by many agencies to increase public-private partnership in IT. The plan also includes an effort to release a portion of Federal custom-code to the public.

The announcement said the plan will save taxpayer money by reducing redundancy in the code created for separate agencies. It is also designed to encourage more tech collaboration between Federal agencies and the public.

The open-sourced nature of Federal code has already enabled the development of a variety of tools for the public, such as housing counselors, the College Scorecard, and resources for sexual assault survivors.

President Obama is expected to discuss his administration’s desire to increase IT collaboration in his speech at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin on Friday.

One Comment
  1. Anonymous | - Reply
    The problem with this proposal is at least twofold: 1) It sounds good to have fewer code stacks for 'similar' functions, however it often isn't compatible. For example, "grant management" sounds like it should have a great deal of overlap. However, convergence of code denies the differences in what 'grant management' means both within and across agencies(e.g., managing to give out grant funds without pre-planning and/or observation of use/outcomes, making grants based on pre-planned qualification guidelines/preparation, making grants and tracking funds usage, making grants/tracking funds usage/identifying outcomes, or advance planning based on historical funding/planning/granting/tracking usage/measuring outcomes/holding grantees responsible). Each of those activities require different data, processes and metrics. Even within agencies (e.g. FAA vs. NHTSA), the functions can be quite different. 2) Making the Federal code-base public increases vulnerability to attack. Black-hat hackers abound. This is not saying that there aren't redundancies that should be mitigated across the Federal IT space. It is just a comment that it really isn't as easy as it sounds, nor as redundant as it might seem at first blush.

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