Github is an online collaborative website for coders that was founded in 2008. Recently, civic hackers and public servants have been increasingly using Github to ““build better, more accessible websites, publish laws and data, and even collaborate on policies themselves” (https://github.com/blog/1657-introducing-government-github-com).   The website government.github.com features around 70 U.S. agencies and 50 international agencies at all different levels (federal, state, and local) as well as NGOs whom have started to use Github.


Positives?

There a variety of advantages an agency can receive by using Github such as using open source versus proprietary software for different projects which can lead to lower cost, “nimble-ness”, interoperability, “fast fixes,” the fact that the code can be customizable, that open source is thought to create “better, more reliable software” , and that other public agencies, nonprofits, and startups can all benefit from sharing of knowledge that is technically owned by the public (http://government.github.com/faq/). Organizations can use Github to get feedback, “open source a dataset”, “explore open source civic apps,” “open source something small,”, or “improve an existing project.” (http://government.github.com/projects/).

Potential Negatives?

It seems main obstacles to government willingness to use Github would be security concerns as well as contractor “reticence to actively engage in an open source environment” (http://fedscoop.com/is-github-governments-next-big-thing/). In addition, there are other competitors to Github, such as SourceForge, RubyForge, Launchpad, and others. If governments use different platforms, it is not clear how overall sharing and collaboration can work across multiple sites.

Final Verdict?

Github has the potential to revolutionize IT projects, knowledge sharing, and collaboration across governments. We feel many possible benefits could result from your IT professionals exploring what has already been shared on the site as well as sharing any existing IT projects, knowledge, and data that is possible.

For more information:

–        https://github.com/blog/1657-introducing-government-github-com

–        http://government.github.com/projects/

–        http://government.github.com/faq/

–        http://fedscoop.com/is-github-governments-next-big-thing/

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Github – Open source collaboration and sharing

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