Government and Public Service Usage of GitHub

From P2P Foundation
Jump to navigation Jump to search


Justin Longo and Tanya Kelley:

"The Center for Policy Informatics at Arizona State University has experimented with and conducted research on the use of GitHub for other purposes beyond collaboration around software development, looking to cases where GitHub is being used to facilitate collaboration amongst a number of co-contributors to non-code outputs — documents written in text, rather than software written in code.

There are several interesting examples of novel GitHub uses. One case saw dozens of mathematicians rapidly complete a major book-length project. Another math project has attracted over 150 contributors. A Congressional candidate made his platform available on GitHub and invited constituents to comment and suggest edits to the documents. Some have used GitHub to collaboratively write legislation. An academic effort to co-create a literature review article presented an abstract and structure for the article, along with guidelines for contributing and a framework for evaluating contributions. A magazine article that profiled the GitHub corporate culture was posted to GitHub itself where readers were invited to improve the article and add translations." (

How government uses GitHub

Ben Balter:

"When government works in the open, it acknowledges the idea that government is the world's largest and longest-running open source project. Open data efforts, efforts like the City of Philadelphia's open flu shot spec, release machine-readable data in open, immediately consumable formats, inviting feedback (and corrections) from the general public, and fundamentally exposing who made what change when, a necessary check on democracy.

Unlike the private sector, however, where open sourcing the "secret sauce" may hurt the bottom line, with government, we're all on the same team. With the exception of say, football, Illinois and Wisconsin don't compete with one another, nor are the types of challenges they face unique. Shared code prevents reinventing the wheel and helps taxpayer dollars go further, with efforts like the White House's recently released Digital Services Playbook, an effort which invites every day citizens to play a role in making government better, one commit at a time.

However, not all government code is open source. We see that adopting these open source workflows for open collaboration within an agency (or with outside contractors) similarly breaks down bureaucratic walls, and gives like-minded teams the opportunity to work together on common challenges.

It's hard to believe that what started with a single repository just five years ago, has blossomed into a movement where today, more than 10,000 government employees use GitHub to collaborate on code, data, and policy each day. Those 10,000 active users make up nearly 500 government organizations, from more than 50 countries. Government code on GitHub spans more than 7,500 repositories with @alphagov, @NCIP, @GSA, and @ministryofjustice being the top open source contributors with more than 100 public repositories each." (