The People's Code

Photo: pexels.com

Last week, the White House released the People’s Code - a Federal Source Code Policy that creates a unifying framework for how the U.S. government - across agencies - builds, contracts, and shares technical work in the public domain. Notably, the policy development process was transparent. Engagement and comment were solicited in both traditional and nontraditional formats, from multiple government departments, and free software and civil society communities. We submitted our comments back in April, and are excited to see the policy move forward.

This policy puts the government departments on equal footing by allowing for, and promoting, the reuse of publicly acquired code throughout government, and particularly across agencies.

We are particularly excited to see that the White House included suggestions from our public filing, particularly:

  • Leveraging open source to foster community around shared challenges and proactively engaging the open source community on government challenges. This allows government work to contribute back to the open source community, a win-win for all involved.

  • Promoting engagement in open development processes and practices. This is a significant cultural shift — it’s great to see the government support a culture of openness with this policy.

  • Setting a goal of 20% open source software as an annual baseline for new code in a project, and encouraging government agencies to be as open as possible in pursuit of ‘transparency, participation and collaboration’

We look forward to seeing how this policy is adopted and hopefully collaborating on open source public interest projects going forward.

Author:

Georgia Bullen is the technology projects director with New America's Open Technology Institute. Bullen provides data visualization, human-centered design, planning and geospatial analytical support to the OTI team and its community partnerships.