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U.S. Deposits Code for Historic Open Gov Project

An open source version of data.gov will soon be available to the rest of the world, marking a major milestone in open government.

Federal Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel and Federal Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra announced on Monday that the United States deposited the code for the Open Government Platform to the open source repository Github, a benchmark in creating a product that will enable governments around the globe to stand up their own open government data sites similar to data.gov.

In an interview with FedScoop, VanRoekel said the code deposit announced today mirrors the back-end data set management system of data.gov, basically the platform which an open government platform can be built. The government of India is now working on the presentation layer of the project, VanRoekel said. There is also a massive amount of work being done to localize the platform, making it available in a wide-variety of languages used around the world.

VanRoekel told FedScoop it is important to use open source for this project to help with licensing it across the globe, but also to inspire a spirit of cross and group collaboration.

“We encourage people to take the source code we upload and help make modifications, contribute to it and focus on a spirit of global continuous improvement,” VanRoekel told FedScoop.

Thought of as “data.gov-in-a-box,” the platform is part of President Obama’s U.S. National Action Plan on Open Government that details the steps the United States will take in meeting the Open Government Partnership, an initiative that secures concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance, VanRoekel and Chopra wrote on the White House blog.

VanRoekel told FedScoop the idea came from a meeting with Indian government leaders in August. Since then, teams from the United States and India have been working on developing the product that is expected to be released in early 2012.

“The module – paired with the software for the Open Government Platform website being developed by India – will enable governments around the world to launch their own open government sites and increase transparency and accountability,” VanRoekel and Chopra wrote in the post.

The United States and India will be providing additional modules in the future, and developers are encouraged to participate, provide feedback, and create new modules and capabilities throughout the process, according to the initiative’s page on data.gov.