California launches open-source code site

California launches open-source code site

Taking a cue from the and repositories for open source code, California has launched Code California, a central platform for finding California government open source software projects.


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An open collaboration between agencies, industry partners and civic technologists, Code California aims to take advantage of agency-developed open source code that can be reused across state government. Developed by the California Department of Technology, the program plans to increase security and efficiency by decreasing duplicative acquisitions and vendor lock-in.  Making open source software publicly available to developers can also contribute to more stable and secure products, the state said in the site's accompanying playbook.

Like many consolidation projects, Code California has created a process for inventorying existing software that may be available for reuse. The California Government Software Inventory protocol is a standardized schema available in a Google Docs spreadsheet that agencies can use to document their code so that a statewide inventory can be compiled. 

Once an agency has inventoried its software, the information will be published to a public-facing open-source code-sharing platform that can then be cataloged on The inventory will help the state assess where statewide software development and procurement can be streamlined.

Currently in alpha, the site features the state's open source policy, the playbook, a Slack collaborative workspace, training resources and links to Code California's GitHub page. Planned features include:

  • The ability to filter projects by technology, agency or license.
  • A project roadmap and a dashboard showing open-source software adoption.
  • A feedback link for comments and bug discoveries and information on how developers can get involved.
  • A "help wanted" functionality to flag projects the state seeks collaboration on.

The federal government waded into adopting and promoting the use of open source software. In March 2016, then-federal CIO Tony Scott released the Federal Source Code Policy draft for comments. The policy required that custom code developed and paid for by the federal government would be made available for reuse across federal agencies. launched in November and now hosts code and guidance documents from thousands of federal government projects.

NASA makes its code available to the general public at The growing catalog now features information from over 450 open source software projects.  The Defense Digital Service's helps the Defense Department address the licensing challenges that can complicate DOD code development.

"As the U.S. Government is doing, California will serve as an example and leader in how local, state and national governments adopt open source technologies that provide the best value and service to the people they serve," Angelica B. Quirarte Arias, digital engagement lead at the California Government Operations Agency, wrote on a Medium blog.

"The State of California will reap the benefits of open source through a proactive commitment to the technology community and the people it serves," she said.

About the Author

Susan Miller is executive editor at GCN.

Over a career spent in tech media, Miller has worked in editorial, print production and online, starting on the copy desk at IDG’s ComputerWorld, moving to print production for Federal Computer Week and later helping launch websites and email newsletter delivery for FCW. After a turn at Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology, where she worked to promote technology-based economic development, she rejoined what was to become 1105 Media in 2004, eventually managing content and production for all the company's government-focused websites. Miller shifted back to editorial in 2012, when she began working with GCN.

Miller has a BA and MA from West Chester University and did Ph.D. work in English at the University of Delaware.

Connect with Susan at [email protected] or @sjaymiller.


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