May 16, 2013 – The U.S. government is outlining its new program for an open source repository to foster collaboration on getting more information to citizens in a faster manner.

Federal CTO Todd Park formally introduced Project Open Data on Thursday in a blog post, and gave an update on its first days of activity. In the first 24 hours after Project Open Data was published, more than two dozen contributors submitted to its GitHub platform, including fixes to broken Web links and policy input. Other, meatier contributions, or “pull requests,” included a tool that converts spreadsheets and databases into APIs for ease of use by developers, and code that translates geographic data from locked formats into open, available formats, according to Park.

“These steps may seem small, but they represent a big shift. Behind these actions is recognition of the simple fact that, as a community, we can do more together than we can alone. Project Open Data leverages the ingenuity of innovators everywhere as partners to help the country realize the full benefit of open data,” wrote Park, pictured at left, in one of his most visible announcements since taking over as CTO in March 2012.   

Park invited others to contribute to “this new model of policy refinement and implementation.” Managed by the White House Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Science and Technology Policy, contributions will be handled directly by repository managers with stated benchmarks to review contributions in a reasonable time frame. Park remarked that both he and federal CIO Steven VanRoekel plan to be “actively involved.”

Project Open Data, which was introduced last week in President Obama’s Open Data Policy, is part of a notable push by the federal government over the last 18 months. Some of the first steps came at the end of 2011, in a joint effort by the U.S. and India on transparent data and open source test code, and at this time last year, President Obama introduced initiatives to make more mobile access and quality data available to the public. Enterprise data vendors and free speech advocates alike have prodded the federal government for more open and standardized access to data and records, including vocal calls from the year-old Data Transparency Coalition, whose membership includes Microsoft, Teradata and MarkLogic.

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