The White House has unveiled its plan to bring governance into the mobile-centric twenty-first century. Dubbed the “Roadmap for a Digital Government,” the plan has two central tenets.
First, It tasks federal agencies with giving citizens easier access to information and services on modern web and mobile apps. Second, it hopes to instill a culture of treating government as an open-source project by inviting external developers to create third-party apps using federal data and APIs.
“Designing for openness from the start –- making open data the default for government IT systems and embracing the use of web APIs –- enables us to more easily deliver information and services through multiple channels, including mobile, and engage the public and America’s entrepreneurs as partners in building a better government,” wrote White House Chief Information Officer Steve VanRoekel in a blog post.
As part of the plan, Data.gov, the federal government’s one-stop shop for publicly available information, will soon include APIs which developers can take and build upon to their heart’s content. Developers will be able to enter into a single contracts to work with APIs from across the federal government.
The strategy also calls for consolidating government information on the web — at the moment, there are about 1,800 .gov domains, creating a problem for people who want to find information quickly and easily.
At its core, the roadmap is an acknowledgment of the growing proliferation of mobile devices and demand for easier access to government information in the United States. A Pew study conducted in March of this year found that almost half of all Americans own a smartphone, up from 35% last year.
VanRoekel believes that the plan will make government — not traditionally considered fast-moving in the realm of technology — quicker to adapt to new trends as outside developers will be able to create products for new platforms and devices faster than in-house federal engineers.
“Treating the government as an open platform in this way encourages innovation,” he wrote. “Just look at how the government’s release of GPS and weather data fueled billion-dollar industries. It also makes government more efficient and able to adapt to inevitable changes in technology.”
The plan, which will be rolled out over the next year, is a major part of the Obama administration’s efforts to bring government online.
“Over the next 12 months, you will start to see an important shift across the Federal Government,” added VanRoekel. “As President Obama has said, ‘I want us to ask ourselves every day, how are we using technology to make a real difference in people’s lives?’”
You can read the full plan below:
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