On April 6th, 2012 the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFBP) rolled out their brand new Source Code Policy, setting the direction for their agency to consume and contribute to open source software.
As a brand new agency, CFBP is in the enviable position of creating their technology road map on a while sheet of paper. No legacy systems, no legacy contracts, no legacy skill sets; not your frequent scenario in the federal government. Unburdened by existing IT operations and entrenched processes based on outdated policies they were free to envision a fresh approach that reflects and supports their public trust mission.
When we build our own software or contract with a third party to build it for us, we will share the code with the public at no charge.
They may have had the new guy advantage, but they’ve done some great work that makes it easier for other agencies to model. CFPB has crafted a clear, concise policy for its use and then shared it broadly. They follow in the footsteps of the Department of Defense, which began producing and refining policy for their agency personnel in this area a number of years ago. CFPB hopes other agencies will find the policy useful as a reference model and to that end have also shared it on GitHub Gist.
I’ve been privileged to have collaborated with the agency’s chief architect of the policy Matthew Burton over the past five years or so. I met Matthew about the time he authored a great essay entitled Why I Help the Man (and why you should too) and worked on a project (“Open Intel”) for the U.S. Department of Energy. Congratulations to Matthew and the team at CFPB for their thoughtful work and leadership in this policy area, and for their creativity in making it a public asset. And I have to add….thanks for making it one of the easiest reads ever for a federal IT policy.