White House: Project Open Data sees early results

Developers are already heading to Project Open Data, the White House’s public repository hosted on GitHub intended to foster collaboration and promote the continued improvement of the recently released open data policy.

According to a blog post by U.S. Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel and U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park, more than two dozen contributors submitted pull requests within the first 24 hours of it being online.

VanRoekel celebrated the first pull with a tweet on Wednesday.



— Steven VanRoekel (@stevenvDC) May 15, 2013

The submissions include everything from fixing broken links to providing policy suggestions to contributing new code and tools.

“These steps may seem small, but they represent a big shift,” the duo wrote. “Behind these actions is recognition of the simple fact that, as a community, we can do more together than we can alone. Project Open Data leverages the ingenuity of innovators everywhere as partners to help the country realize the full benefit of open data.”

The repository includes a toolbox with Database to API, Spatial Search and Kickstart, among others. View the complete toolbox.


VanRoekel and Park also described in detail how Project Open Data will work. From their entry:

Contributing: Project Open Data is a collaborative, open source project. Both federal employees and members of the public are strongly encouraged to improve the project by contributing. Fortunately, contributing is very easy. Simply click the “Improve this content” button at the top of every page, make your edit, and hit “submit.” Your changes will appear once they are approved. Additional instructions can be found here.

Owners: Project Open Data is managed by the White House Office of Management and Budget and Office of Science and Technology Policy. As the federal CIO and CTO, we both plan to be actively involved in this exciting project and are looking forward to merging many more “pull requests” along the way. Members of our teams will also be involved in maintaining the project.

Approving changes: In GitHub speak, Project Open Data is actually a collection of different little-p “projects” housed in individual repositories, or “repos.” Each individual project repo will be managed as an open source project – i.e., users can make pull requests (suggest changes).  A repo manager will adjudicate the pull requests (accept, modify, or reject) in a public log on a standard release cycle. Changes to relevant policy areas will be reviewed and approved by relevant policy officials.  We will document and carry out these conversations within Project Open Data through issues and comments.

Timing: White House owners will have regular “stand ups” to review the pull requests and ensure suggestions are addressed in a reasonable time frame. Changes that are relatively minor (e.g., typos, minor edits) should be approved fairly quickly, while more substantial changes may take longer to review and approve with necessary White House stakeholders.

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