On Monday the federal Chief Information Officer, Tony Scott, announced the release of the Federal Source Code policy. It covers custom source code developed by or for the Federal Government, and is intended to encourage its sharing and re-use by other government agencies. Additionally, at least 20 percent of this source code must be shared with the public, and the policy will encourage agencies to share more.
The policy is straightforward, and includes general guidance for agencies to determine when and how to develop custom source code. It also encourages the sharing of source code as open source software. This supports government transparency, and it also allows for improvement of the shared code through the collaborative ethos of the open source community. This isn’t the first time that the government is sharing source code, as federal agencies have been sharing code on Github for some time. This includes the new data.gov website, which will serve as a portal to custom federal source code and a resource for agencies working to comply with the policy.
Agencies have 90 days to develop a policy for complying with the Federal Source Code policy.