“APIs for WhiteHouse.gov? What in the heck does that mean?” Like President Obama, you may be asking the same question. DigitalGov University set out to answer that question during its API Standards from the White House webinar (PDF, 2.6 MB, 65 pages) with Leigh Heyman and Bryan Hirsch, from the White House Office of Digital Strategy.
After launching the We The People petition site, citizens using the tool were asking how they could improve their own engagement levels on the petitions and wanted to look at the data. This led the WhiteHouse.gov tech team to create an API.
The WhiteHouse.gov tech team realized early on that to make their APIs successful in the long run, they needed to develop and follow clear guidance that would make the underlying concepts accessible to non-developers and would reinforce best-practices over time. So they created an API Standards doc on GitHub that everyone can view.
As the White House team is working on API development, they make sure that new changes adhere to these standards, and if they don’t, then the team works on them more.