The Data Briefing: Three Significant Events in Federal Open Data This Past Week

Mar 23, 2016

Three recent stories demonstrate how opening up federal government data and using agile methods to create federal government software can spur innovation while saving tax money and helping the American public.

Digital photo of U S A Networking concept with binary code and website scripting overlays

  1. In its Second Open Government National Action Plan (PDF, 639 KB, 5 pages, September 2014), the White House called for a government-wide policy on open source software. Recently, the Office of Management and Budget released a draft policy “to improve the way custom-developed government code is acquired and distributed moving forward.” Agencies are encouraged to use open source software and standards to develop government software. This software will also be made available to all federal agencies and, for some of the source code, to the public. As the policy states, the benefits will include creating communities of interest around the software and APIs* to crowdsource the maintenance and testing of the software. The policy is open to public comment. It will be interesting to see how the public responds to this unprecedented access to federal government software resources.

  2. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is introducing a new agile development framework to help in building IT applications faster and more effectively. The “Veteran-focused Integration Process” (VIP) will use Scrum which is an iterative and agile process to build software applications. According to a VA blog post, VIP will reduce the number of documents and decision processes needed to create the software while security will be introduced earlier into the application building process.

  3. Meme: Keep Calm and Open Data over an American flag
    The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released 275 datasets through the Homeland Infrastructure Foundation-Level Data Working Group (HIFLD). These datasets provide valuable mapping information for disaster officials and first responders. It is also hoped innovators can create startups around the DHS data. One example is a mobile app that can display alternative fueling stations for use during emergencies and to help city planners prepare for emergencies.

*API – Application Programming Interface. How software programs and databases share data and functions with each other. Check out APIs in Government for more information.

(All references to specific brands and/or companies are used only for illustrative purposes and do not imply endorsement by the U.S. federal government or any federal government agency.)

Each week, The Data Briefing showcases the latest federal data news and trends.

Dr. William Brantley is the Training Administrator for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Global Intellectual Property Academy. You can find out more about his personal work in open data, analytics, and related topics at All opinions are his own and do not reflect the opinions of the USPTO or GSA.