Kicking Off an Open Source Project with the GSA


Last month I blogged about the Digital Government Strategy in the age of GitHub. Inspired by our meetings with Lisa Schlosser (Deputy Federal CIO) and Haley Van Dyck (Senior Advisor to the US CIO), I wrote an API and co-developed an app for bringing Federal challenges to the iPhone.

My intention was to turn over the projects to the GSA, and last week I was able to meet up with Gwynne Kostin (Director of Digital Services Innovation Center in the Office of Citizen Services & Innovative Technologies) and Sheila Campbell (Director, Center for Excellence in Digital Government), along with other members of the team (Karen Trebon, Jacob Parcell, and Tammi Marcoullier), who took time out of a hectic launch day for some great discussion on fostering a development community around Federal open data.

We ended up brainstorming on a project that Gwynne wants to kick off as a model of open source collaboration between the GSA and open source contributors in the private sector from start to finish, concept through live deployment.

The project concept is to make it easy for citizens to find:

  • Free or low cost health clinics
  • Section 8 housing
  • Stores that accept SNAP (“food stamp”) cards

The project will exemplify a GitHub-oriented workflow around source control, wiki, issue tracking, continuous integration, and automated deployment. It will also serve as a recipe for others in leveraging various Amazon Cloud PaaS providers for hosting the API and data and for performing analytics.

To get the project off the ground, I created a repo on GitHub (now here). We’ll begin fleshing out the concept and adding issues for work that needs to get done. If you’re interested in contributing, go ahead and start watching the repo now for issue notifications.