The U.S. Federal Government Open Sources Two Useful Tools

by Ostatic Staff - Apr. 01, 2011

Back in 2009, we noted that Vivek Kundra (shown), the first CIO for the United States, boded well for open source, and would be likely to create and adopt open source applications and platforms for use in the U.S. government. Now, Kundra has announced in a blog post that some simple open source tools have helped him shave $3 billion in federal costs, and the same open source tools are being released to the public, where they could be useful in many contexts, and the public may help improve them for government use.

The two open source tools are called IT Dashboard and TechStat Toolkit, and Kundra writes:

 "We launched the IT Dashboard and the TechStat Accountability Sessions to improve IT transparency and accountability across the Federal Government. The Dashboard has helped us shine a light on IT projects, providing performance data to fuel TechStat reviews, which have led to over $3 billion in cost reductions. Today we are releasing the software code of the IT Dashboard and the TechStat toolkit to the public for two reasons.  First, to take the platform to the next level, we want to tap into the collective talents and ingenuity of the American people, to enhance functionality, improve the code and address existing challenges such as those identified by David Powner and his team at GAO.  Second, CIOs from across the country and around the world such as Maarten Hillenaar of the Netherlands, Kyle Schafer in West Virginia  and Jason DeHaan of the City of Chicago are all interested in implementing these platforms in their respective organizations."

It's notable that leaders in state government and leaders around the world are interested in these open source tools, and the development and sharing of them is a shining example of how the governement can take a "lead instead of follow" attitude toward technology. 

Kundra adds:

"The IT Dashboard has helped the Federal Government to better manage its IT investments, and now that its code is freely available— through a format known as ‘open source’— it can help any organization do the same. Software developers will be able to collaborate, identify errors, develop enhancements, and recommend improvements to the Dashboard, and find new uses for it that we have not even imagined.  The TechStat Toolkit provides a comprehensive guide for organizations to establish their own TechStats to improve line-of-sight between project teams and senior executives, increase the precision of ongoing measurement of IT program health, and boost the quality and timing of interventions to keep projects on track."

A live demo of the IT Dashboard is available online here. These tools are clearly sophisticated, and the deployment and public sharing of them set an example. Kudos to Kundra, who was born in Delhi and raised in Tanzania, for sharing these apps with the world at large.