OMB finalizes policy on open source code from agencies

Portions of code from agencies will soon be open source. (Pixabay)

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Portions of code from agencies will soon be open source. (Pixabay)

The White House’s Office of Management and Budget has finalized its source code policy for federal agencies, which will make code open for sharing and re-use across all federal agencies.

In a blog post, Federal CIO Tony Scott highlighted how the program will help the government avoid duplicative purchases of custom software and promote innovation and collaboration across federal agencies.

“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,” Scott wrote.

The policy will come with a pilot program where agencies will release at least 20 percent of their newly-developed custom code as open source. This custom code is that which has been developed by third parties — custom code that is developed by government agencies is automatically considered a “government work,” making it open source by default.

A draft version of the policy was released in March, and opened for public comment. On GitHub, open source software development tool, Scott said OMB has further emphasized in the final policy that the pilot program’s 20 percent release requirement is a minimum baseline, and agencies are encouraged to go above and beyond to release as much custom-developed code as possible.

Portions of open federal code will be posted on a new website — code.gov — that will grow as agencies adhere to the policy.

Federal agencies have deployed thousands of open source projects since 2014. The Education Department’s College Scorecard, the General Services Administration’s federal-wide analytics dashboard, and a tool hosted by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that uses data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development are among government projects that have their source code publicly available on GitHub, an open source software development tool.

Shortly after the finalized policy was released, the General Services Administration’s 18F office released a blog dispelling some of the facts and myths around the policy.

The blog post focuses on what open source projects have already been built, where code repositories can be hosted and how agencies can collaborate with one another.

Contact the reporter on this story via email at greg.otto@fedscoop.com, or follow him on Twitter at @gregotto. His OTR and PGP info can be found hereSubscribe to the Daily Scoop for stories like this in your inbox every morning by signing up here: fdscp.com/sign-me-on.

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Agencies, Applications & Software, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), open source, Tech, Tony Scott
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