NASA unveils new initiatives around open source, open standards, outreach
The agency's new plan "is meant to serve as a model--not a manual--for what an open government might look like," said NASA's Open Government Program Manager Nick Skytland in an April 9 blog post.
Even if Skytland sees the plan as just "a model," NASA is fairly specific about its next steps for open government projects. The NASA Web Environment plan lays out goals and deadlines for creating what it says will be "an accessible, participatory and transparent web environment based on open and interoperable standards," says Skytland.
The environment will permit a flexible web presence, says the plan. The architecture will "strive for vendor independence" with a preference for open source, government off-the-shelf (GOTS) technology, and proprietary solutions over custom-built solutions, says NASA. "This includes cloud offerings," the agency adds.
Within 1 year, NASA aims to: release a request for proposal for NASA's information technology services related to the web environment, pilot an open source software content management system, consolidate its blogging infrastructure, move NASA.gov to an open source web content management platform, and develop an API for NASA.gov public content.
While NASA's open data and code initiatives have garnered much attention, the new plan outlines further action around NASA's use of open source software in particular. NASA's commitment to leverage more open source software also correlates with its web environment goals.
"Open source can bring numerous benefits to NASA software efforts, including increased software quality, reduced development costs, faster development cycles, and reduced barrier to public-private collaboration through new opportunities to commercialize NASA technology," says NASA in a slide deck below Skytland's blog post.
NASA also plans to make the new software it creates available through code.nasa.gov. Within 1 year, NASA plans to add discussion forums to code.nasa.gov and increase the number of organizations contributing to and using the site. Within 2 years NASA hopes to implement a public and private collaborative code repository.
"The agency has setup a pilot activity to test an Agency-wide private enterprise collaborative repository. The tool interfaces with its hosted repositories to provide developers and activity managers with tools for Team Management and Collaboration, Activity Wikis, Integrated Issue Tracking, Milestone Definitions, Advanced Searching, Code Review, and Branch Analysis," says the open government plan. The agency adds that this will promote collaboration, code reuse and transparency.
Finally, NASA's refreshed plan sets out goals for a Citizen Engagement Directory. This will clearly outline all the opportunities for collaboration and contribution at NASA .
Federal agencies are in the process of publishing updates to the open government plans they first drafted two years ago. Skytland said NASA's plan refresh was an opportunity to "sharpen our focus."