While many of our nation’s problems are quite clear, the way our government addresses them is too often a black box—opaque and closed to all but insiders and lobbyists.
But the White House has taken a remarkable–if small–step toward bringing greater transparency to the legislative process. For the first time, it has used the GitHub social coding website as a forum for discussing and ultimately changing government policy. With one GitHub “pull request,” it modified the Project Open Data policy document, which spells out how government agencies are supposed to open up access to their data. This represents the fusion of open source software and government policy that open-government advocates have long predicted. And it might be a sign of things to come as others—the city of San Francisco, and the New York state senate, to name a couple—bring collaborative government into the light.
Late last week, Haley Van Dyck at the Office of Management and Budget submitted a pull request that suggested small changes to Project Open data that clarify how agencies think about open source and public domain software. Pull requests are a Silicon Valley innovation. They’re typically used by software developers on GitHub to suggest and discuss changes to code. But they’re also a good tool for tracking changes to complex legal documents, even government regulations. Continue>>>