White House drafts official Open Data Policy of the United States … on GitHub

Above: GitHub's famous mascot, Octocat.

Image Credit: GitHub
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GitHub, the web-based hosting service for software projects using the git revision control system, isn’t just for software. It’s for anything that you want to open to multiple contributors and that you want revision control on.

Even official government policy for the United States of America.

GitHub’s Ben Balter announced today that the White House drafted and released the official Open Data Policy of the United States on the service.

“Today’s news marks the first time a government entity has published law as a living, collaborative document,” Balter said. “We’re excited to see how the Open Data Policy evolves with the input of the community, and we hope this is just the first of many.”

Project Open Data is a policy that instructs government agencies to “manage their data, and information more generally, as an asset from the start.” And not just to manage it for monetary or political gain but to manage it for the public good — the document says that government data should, wherever possible, be released “to the public in a way that makes it open, discoverable, and usable.”

white-house-washingtonThat’s impressive, and that’s exciting for advocates of open and collaborative government.

“This is the geekiest thing the feds have ever done,” VentureBeat’s own Dylan Tweney said.

The White House is using GitHub Pages, which GitHub hosts for free. Pages can be managed from the GitHub site, a Mac app, or the command line, and it includes features such as theme options — often responsive or optimized for mobile — as well as custom URLs.

“By choosing GitHub Pages, government employees as well as citizens are empowered to continuously propose and discuss potential improvements,” Balter says.

And, he adds, the “revolution is only just beginning.”

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