Project MyUSA

Presidential Innovation Fellows

Open Source *All* The Things

Open Source *ALL* the things.

When we first set out to reimagine the relationship between government and the people, our goal was not simply to build the next generation of citizen-facing tools and services, but to also fundamentally change how these tools are built. We started by looking closely at at our own process and quickly committed to architechting an open platform from day one.

Today, MyGov would not be possible if it were not for countless open source projects, from our own internal tools to the very servers that power MyGov itself. For those unfamiliar with the term, open source software is simply software for which the underlying, human-readable instructions are made publicly available for others to use, re-use, and submit improvements. Think about it as analagous to the “give a penny take a penny” tray at your local convenience store, or asking a neighbor if you can borrow a screwdriver.

Why open source rocks

Open source offers government many advantages. For one, it provides opportunties for cross-agency collaboration that avoids duplication of efforts — after all, many of the challenges faced are common across government. Shared solutions like MyGov allows agencies to concentrate on tackling mission, as opposed to trying to solve the same problem time and time again. Likewise, without having to reinvent the wheel each time, agencies can bring services to market faster, cheaper, and often with better quality. Last, open source forces developers not to bake in bespoke solutions or couple interfaces too closely to underlying logic. This allows for better modularity and fungability over the lifetime of the code, meaning individuals systems can more easily communicate with one another and the initial investment can last longer and be more easily upgraded over time.

It’s about the community, people

At its core however, open source is about community, not technology. Today we’d like to take a moment to give back — to put a penny back in the tray — and more importantly, to add to the ongoing dialog around improving the digital delivery of government services. Both with our colleagues at other government agencies, and with the public more broadly. As with all open source software, feel free to adapt the code for your own projects, but with this code especially, we encourage you to take a moment to improve it by submitting a pull request.


Behind the scenes

Jump right in

MyGov began its journey by setting out to improve the way citizens interact with government, but to continue, we need your help. The code is just the start. It is our hope that these MyGov projects can serve as one example of a greater joint effort — citizens and government collaborating to improve our shared experience. After all, unlike many other sites on the web, it’s your code. You paid for it. If you’re a coder or a designer or even just an involed citizen, we encourage you to take a critical look at MyGov, and get involved on our developer page.


This is our final post as Team MyGov. It’s been a great 6 months, and we appreciate all your help, support, and feedback along the way as we worked on our project. There’s more to come from MyGov in the future, but for now: so long, and thanks for all the fish.

Regards, Phil Ashlock, Ben Balter, Danny Chapman, Kara DeFrias & Greg Gershman Presidential Innovation Fellows v1

Posted in announcements | Tagged Open Source, Developers, Community, Code