California launches new online repository to share open-source code

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The California Government Operations Agency last week launched a new website that will eventually host the state’s open-source software projects, allowing agencies, the technology industry and citizens to collaborate on the development of software used by the state government.

The website, Code California, follows the state Department of Technology’s May order calling for the creation of a public code repository. The policy states such a product will “better support cost efficiency, effectiveness, and the public’s experience with government programs.”

Code California offers a holistic approach to facilitating adoption of this policy. A description of the project on the site reads that it aims to serve Californians with a “technology ecosystem optimized for exponential collaboration, innovation and success,” with focuses on community building, training, open space events and tactical guidance.

Open source code will allow state agencies to acquire, build and deliver information technology and software solutions with less redundancy and greater cost-effectiveness, according to the California Department of Technology. Currently, California agencies do not share custom-developed source code for governmentwide reuse. According to the reuse policy, failure to make source code broadly accessible across government results in duplicative acquisitions and inefficient use of taxpayer dollars. By opening up new source codes, agencies and state entities can share software solutions instead of having to buy the same software products multiple times. This system also allows for greater peer review and security testing of software, the state says.

Moving toward open-source code could also change relationships between the state and its technology vendors. A federal source code reuse policy introduced in 2016 mandated that U.S. government agencies make their custom-developed code available to other bureaus. Currently, Code.gov, which launched alongside the national reuse policy, hosts nearly 5,000 open-source projects.

Once Code California begins hosting the state’s open source projects, agencies will be able to share, build, and deliver IT and software solutions more easily. The new website states it will empower those that support state government services and optimize the technology ecosystem as it continues to implement the California Open Source and Code Reuse policy.

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