Modern technology gives us many things.

Open Sourcing Digital Government best practices

How Governments can stop reinventing the wheel and enjoy massive efficiencies and cost savings through reusing existing code and best practices.

The headline theme for this site is “Open sourcing best practices”.

Where possible we’ll showcase projects where there is an associated open source repository, so that those best practices can literally be repeated through download.

We’ve also set up our own repo so can offer project hosting where helpful.

A number of governments are now recognizing the importance of sharing taxpayer-funded resources via this approach, it improves the technology itself through opening it up to the scrutiny of many eyes, and enables any one else in the world to learn from and repeat the innovations they pioneer.

For example Tom Loosemore comments on Argentina’s initial steps:

Best practices

A number of great resources are available that explain how best to go about this and what the benefits can be.

GDS defines open sourcing as one of their key digital best practices, and in this video Anna Shipman talks through the journey they went through:

Massive cost savings through repeatable solution sodels

This is especially powerful when the code comes as as a part of a package that is the result of a real-world project, with well documented adoption and success factors, using open source sharing methods like Github. Aka ‘The Github Difference‘ this harnesses the global Github network of open sourced best practices, ranging from simple web site themes through to full solution ‘recipes’ such as How we built Gov.uk.

For example the NCSC open sourced the code behind MailCheck, one of their Active Cyber Defence projects, and this news highlights how the team behind GLA-OPS (Greater London Authority – Open Project System) have also open sourced that code.

This is substantial software that would be of significant value seeking to implement similar programs. For example if you want to apply for Affordable Homes it goes through this system, highlighting the obvious, huge benefit for Governments:

Why keep spending more and more of taxpayers monies on reinventing the wheel with IT suppliers, when that software already exists and has the best practices already ‘baked in’.

Open Government visionary Beth Noveck wrote in 2011 about the potential for this strategic sector-wide transformation:

In practice, this means that if a community college wins a grant to create a videogame to teach how to install solar panels, everyone will have the benefit of that knowledge. They will be able to play the game for free. In addition, anyone can translate it into Spanish or Russian or use it as the basis to create a new game to teach how to do a home energy retrofit.

This Nesta project Make It Local awarded four councils in Scotland with £25k each to produce an innovative local, open data-based project with the critical stipulation that the resulting code was open sourced.

As GLA-OPS describe in their blog it meets many common grant applications requirements:

Bidding for the London Borough of Culture programme which launched in 2017. Waltham Forest was announced as the winner for 2019, and Brent as the winner for 2020. Six additional boroughs were awarded Cultural Impact Awards

The Regeneration Small Projects and Equipment Fund, which also launched in 2017. This programme was so popular it was well oversubscribed, a total of 42 projects were awarded funding totalling just over £3.7m

Coordinating the GLA’s internal land projects, allowing robust and clear management. This means land assets can to be used to regenerate areas, boost economic growth and create more housing

There are also multiple new programmes and initiatives right across the GLA that will shortly be launched via OPS.

Github Repo

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