The United States government has made its IT Dashboard, a cost-cutting tool for federal transparency, freely available for anyone, especially other governments, to use and customize.

The IT Dashboard gives citizens important information on how the government uses tax money for technology initiatives across various agencies. Citizens can see how government investments are paying off, and they can compare types of IT spending over time by accessing easy-to-reach charts and graphs.

But this clarity of and access to vital information isn’t just good for citizens; it’s also used by the Federal Government, including Congress, to make important decisions about IT budgets and spending. Open-sourcing this cost-saving tool is part of the government’s larger plan to save on IT by eliminating redundant efforts. In other words, the IT Dashboard already exists and has been paid for, and the government isn’t going to hide that light under a bushel.

Here’s a video demonstrating some of the features of the federal IT Dashboard:

The government is working with Code for America for this release. In am announcement, CfA said, “The IT Dashboard was a major component of the process the Federal Government employed to save over $3 billion in just its first two years of deployment.”

In addition to the Dashboard, the government is also open-sourcing the complementary TechStat Toolkit, a set of tools and processes for reviewing any yellow or red flags that might pop up while using the Dashboard.

In this video, U.S. CIO Vivek Kundra talks about the results the government has seen by using the IT Dashboard and how those results were achieved:


But open-sourcing something like this isn’t a cakewalk. The government worked with FOSS and government experts, Code for America and CfA’s Civic Commons project to get the job done.

Project lead Karl Fogel wrote on the Civic Commons blog, “We knew from the beginning that a high-profile project can’t be open sourced casually. It’s not enough to just put an open license on the code, move development out to a publicly visible repository, and call it done.”

He continued to note that for the Dashboard, Civic Commons had to ensure that all the code and documentation was safe for public use (i.e., not classified or a government secret) and audit the code; reduce dependencies on proprietary libraries; write documentation; ceate non-sensitive, non-classified sample data; work with the Drupal community; and much more.

Interested parties can download the Dashboard code now at SourceForge. While the Dashboard is intended to help governments cut costs and manage IT budgets, we can see such tools coming in handy at just about any large company, tech or otherwise.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, GottfriedEdelman

More About: code for america, it dashboard, open source, U.S. government

For more Dev & Design coverage:

Code for America seeking devs for its 2012 Fellowship Program, a year of public service that puts coders to work for communities.

The fellowship gives developers, researchers, entrepreneurs and designers a chance to build customized web and mobile apps for communities and governments. Their work is used to solve pervasive public problems and connect citizens to governments. Each app built will be open sourced, as well.

The 2012 fellowship will be the second annual program of its kind. This year, recent graduates are encouraged to file early decision applications, which would allow for better planning of internships, employment or continued education. Those applicants would be notified of CfA’s decision by May 1, 2011.

Early decision applications are due April 15, 2011, and all other applications are due August 1, 2011. Would-be fellows can apply now on Code for America’s website.

Last year, the fellowship program had room for 20 fellows, and more than 350 applications were received. Given the stature of government applicants for the second cycle, competition is expected to be even more fierce this year.

Fellows in the year-long program will receive a living-wage stipend, travel expenses and healthcare. They’ll also get leadership training, networking opportunities and future career support in the form of guaranteed interviews at top web companies.

More About: cfa, code for america, developers, fellowship, hackers, internship

For more Dev & Design coverage:

Code for America, the non-profit organization that creates government-changing apps for communities around the U.S., has received applications from 19 U.S. city, state and federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of State.

Each of these government entities will compete to be one of the three to five communities that gets Code for America fellows to create a customized, open-source app to solve a pervasive problem in public service or government administration.

For example, in the last Code for America cycle, five cities were picked for projects such as an Open311-type project and an application that allows citizens to monitor and give feedback on city hall proposals.

The 19 applicants will compete for a spot in the next Code for America cycle. Applications will be judged based on the government’s commitment to the partnership, funding to support the project, and the openness, efficiency, and reusability of the proposed application or project. The selection process will be guided by a committee, which will announce the winning applicants in June 2011.

Once three to five candidates are selected, the custom apps will be developed by Code for America fellows, a team of 20 crack web and mobile developers hand-selected by an all-star committee that includes Irene Au of Google, Paul Buchheit of Facebook, Anil Dash of Expert Labs and many more.

Code for America’s Government Relations Director Alissa Black said in a release, “It’s great to see not only this much interest in Code for America, but also enthusiasm from public officials in using technology to change the way government works.

The response we’re seeing proves that government is thinking creatively about ways to innovate in response to our fiscal crises, and that the open government movement is really taking hold within government itself.”

Here’s the full list of applicants:

  • Anchorage, Alaska
  • Austin, Texas
  • Balboa Park – San Diego, California
  • California Department of Economic Development
  • California Department of Energy
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Detroit, Michigan
  • Hartford County, Maryland
  • Memphis, Tennessee
  • New Orleans, Louisiana
  • New York City
  • Omaha, Nebraska
  • Palm Bay, Florida
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Raleigh, North Carolina
  • San Francisco, California
  • Santa Clarita, California
  • Santa Cruz, California
  • U.S. Department of State

More About: code for america, developers, government, social good

For more Dev & Design coverage: