Launches as Government’s GitHub

Government building with flag
Government building with flag ||

The U.S. government is now letting you take a look at what it’s doing, at least digitally. Last week, a website called spun up with codebases for many of the government’s own products.

With the eyebrow-raising goal of unlocking “the tremendous potential of the Federal Government’s software,” is basically the government’s own version of GitHub. While it still keeps some products available via GitHub, those are often distributed by the respective branches of government; cobbles them all together.

Here are the departments with projects on the site (so far):

  • Department of Commerce
  • Department of Energy
  • Department of Labor
  • Executive Office of the President
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • General Services Administration
  • National Archives and Records Administration
  • NASA
  • Office of Personnel Management
  • Department of the Treasury
  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of Veterans Affairs

The code repositories fall under the Federal Source Code policy, released in August to “support improved access to custom software code developed by or for the Federal Government.”

There are a couple of oddities, too. The Department of Energy built a network analysis framework in a language called ‘Bro’ you’re likely not using and never knew existed. NASA crafted a collection of 3D models and images in a language named ‘Mathematica’ (how appropriate). Most of what you’ll find on is JavaScript, CSS and other web-friendly standards. Sadly, the NSA has yet to drop any repos on — but we’re waiting.

And some repos are – let’s say dated. A ‘Federal SDK’ Swift repo from the Department of Labor hasn’t been updated since Swift 1.2, and many others haven’t been touched in six months or more.

You can help, though. Because they’re open source, the repos do accept help from non-government employees. We can’t say pull requests will get immediate attention, but it’s an option.

Writing that he expects the number of repos to “grow over the coming months as agencies work to implement the Federal Source Code Policy,” U.S. Chief Information Officer Tony Scott went on to say: “We’re excited about today’s launch, and envision becoming yet another creative platform that gives citizens the ability to participate in making government services more effective, accessible, and transparent.”

He added: “We also envision it becoming a useful resource for State and local governments and developers looking to tap into the Government’s code to build similar services, foster new connections with their users, and help us continue to realize the President’s vision for a 21st Century digital government.”

Thanks, Obama.