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IS G OV ER N M E N T T H E U LT IMAT E E X PE R IME NT IN OPEN S O U RC E ? How GitHub Has Transformed Open-Source Coding for Government

Ben Balter, government evangelist at GitHub, recently spoke with Chris Dorobek on the DorobekINSIDER blog, identifying the value of GitHub for government, which has become the default for sharing code in open source. (Listen to the full interview here.) During the interview, Balter described GitHub as a Facebook for coders, but instead of sharing pictures and status updates, you share your software code. He said GitHub is: „ „ A version control platform and a social network. „ „ Focused on growing communities around a shared challenge. GitHub is also a coding wiki, he added. “GitHub is built under the same philosophy as a wiki: Anyone can propose a change,” Balter said. “In GitHub, we have a pool request model. That means we have a structured comment section. Instead of a member of the public having direct access to edit the underlying source code, the proposed change is moderated. The original creator can either reject or approve of the edit. In the meantime, the entire community can have a discussion in the comment section about the proposed change.” GitHub has more than 4 million users and hosts more than 6 million repositories of code. There

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AGENCY OF THE FUTURE

are dozens of examples of how coders have used GitHub to share, modify and improve coding practices. Organizations such as Code for America, the White House, FEMA and dozens of state, local and federal agencies host their code on GitHub. Projects that have used it include: Project Open Data: This White House-developed

project is a collection of code, tools and case studies designed to help agencies adopt the Open Data Policy and fully make use of their data. New York State Senate: According to its website,

the New York State Senate “uses open-source software whenever possible in order to avoid paying expensive software license fees, and we release new software that we develop under open-source software licenses whenever possible, so that others in government or the private sector can leverage our work, thus maximizing the return on the investment of the tax dollars invested in its creation.” The code is shared on GitHub and at www.nysenate.gov/developers. Code for America: The goal of Code for America is

to improve relationships between citizens and government. It helps local governments build and deploy technology that makes it easy to connect and engage with government. The code used to develop these technologies is then shared on GitHub for other cities to model and build on.

Profile for GovLoop

Agency of the Future: Open Source  

Through GovLoop’s research initiatives to define the “agency of the future,” we have consistently found one important trend in government: o...

Agency of the Future: Open Source  

Through GovLoop’s research initiatives to define the “agency of the future,” we have consistently found one important trend in government: o...

Profile for govloop