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Data.gov To World: Fork Me On GitHub

BY Nick Judd | Monday, December 5 2011

Late last week, the United States released some of the source code for an open-source version of Data.gov, the White House's platform for federal agency data, through a new repository on the open-source development hub GitHub.

The first module released is the Data Management System, part of the framework for publishing data on the currently in-development Open Government Platform, a "Data.gov-in-a-box" with components built here and others built by federal coders' colleagues in India.

Federal officials announced in July that the U.S. and India would collaborate to release an open-source version of the government data portal, with a projected release data of early 2012, as part of a larger set of joint open-government initiatives. In a blog post, White House Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel and Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra explain that this code release is the first in a series that will, eventually, become the soup-to-nuts release of a system for publishing and maintaining repositories of open government data:

The U.S. and India are working together to produce an open source version available for implementation by countries globally, encouraging governments around the word to stand up open data sites that promote transparency, improve citizen engagement, and engage application developers in continuously improving these efforts. Technical teams from the U.S. and Indian governments have been working together since August of this year, with a planned launch of the open source product (which is now called the Open Government Platform (OGPL) to reflect its broad scope) in early 2012.

The U.S. is also a current co-chair of the Open Government Partnership, a multilateral group of countries that agree to make certain commitments around openness and transparency, and non-profits and watchdog groups around the world that have agreed to work with those countries as they attempt to accomplish their goals.

Over at O'Reilly Radar, Alex Howard now has more from VanRoekel on this White House cooperation with India:

During the August meetings, "we agreed upon a set of things we would do around creating excellence around an open data platform," said VanRoekel. "We owned the first deliverable: a dataset management tool. That's the foundation of an open source data platform. It handles workflow, security and the check in of data -- all of the work that goes around getting the state data needs to be in before it goes online. India owns the next phase: the presentation layer."

If the initiative bears fruit in 2012, as planned, the international open government data movement will have a new tool to apply toward open data platforms. That could be particularly relevant to countries in the developing world, given the limited resources available to many governments.

This post was updated to link over to O'Reilly Media after their post went up.