Making Open Work
May 8–9, 2017: Training & Tutorials
May 10–11, 2017: Conference
Austin, TX

The people’s code: Learning how to open source the federal government

Joseph Castle (US General Services Administration), Matthew Bailey (Office of the Federal Chief Information Officer, The White House), Michelle Ibarra (US Environmental Protection Agency), Jason Duley (NASA), Tom Berekyei (Defense Digital Service (DDS))
11:50am12:30pm Thursday, May 11, 2017
In Real Life (IRL)
Location: Ballroom E
Level: Non-technical
Average rating: ***..
(3.50, 2 ratings)

Who is this presentation for?

  • Developers, IT managers, large org members, and those working in policy and legal

Prerequisite knowledge

  • General knowledge of open source licensing and community norms
  • An understanding of version control platforms, scripting tools, and open data formats

What you'll learn

  • Understand how large bureaucratic organizations and the federal government are publishing code
  • Hear good stories about public servants “fighting the good fight”


Joseph Castle, Matthew Bailey, Jason Duley, Sharon Woods, and Michelle Ibarra discuss the implementation of the White House open source policy—M-16-21: Achieving Efficiency, Transparency, and Innovation through Reusable and Open Source Software (OSS) (released this August)—which directs federal agencies, among other things, to publish a portion of their code as open source software going forward. Joseph, Matthew, Jason, Sharon, and Michelle provide insight into their experiences and explore the unique challenges—technical, legal, and cultural—in helping the largest bureaucracy in the world learn how to join the open source community.

The policy itself calls for agencies to release 20% of their code as open source within a 90-day period, with more to be released in the future. To accomplish this, agencies developed Ruby and JavaScript webhooks to scan repositories for sensitive information while making public repositories private until appropriate changes were made and utilized version control platform APIs and developed scripts to gather metadata about all code repositories to make public.

When dealing with large agencies with disparate code bases that are often hidden in silo organizations throughout a government agency, Joseph, Matthew, Jason, Sharon, and Michelle not only had to define agency rules and offer a better understanding to executives and program managers on how to account for OSS but also had to find the code to make public. In addition, there was the challenge to gain support for technology approaches that are mostly germane to private companies as well as the difficulty implementing agency-wide technology policy across diverse agencies (in size, mission, technology skills, etc.).

Photo of Joseph Castle

Joseph Castle

US General Services Administration

Joseph Castle is the director of the GSA Digital Service, where he is responsible for implementing White House digital strategy policies and establishing the GSA’s Digital Service team. In 2013, Joe served in the Executive Office of the President in the Office of the USCIO. He has worked in the federal government for 12 years. Previously, he spent time in private industry. Joe is a veteran of the US Army’s 10th Mountain Division. He holds an undergraduate business degree and an MBA from Mount Saint Mary’s University in Emmittsburg, Maryland, and a master’s degree in information systems technology management from the George Washington University.

Photo of Matthew Bailey

Matthew Bailey

Office of the Federal Chief Information Officer, The White House

Matthew Bailey is a technology strategist and organizer working at the intersection of open government, civic engagement, and public policy. A passionate generalist, his work has ranged from information security to open data and from crowdfunding to service design. As a cofounder of Code for DC, he helps build the capacity of DC’s technology community for social good. By day, he serves at the White House Office of the Chief Information Officer as a digital services expert, focusing on all the open things in a policy context—including the recently issued federal source code policy. Previously, Matt was the director of technology innovation for DC’s government and a user experience manager for the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, where he focused on closing the loop from financial complaints by citizens to the marketplace using open data. Matt is an English major and thinks you should be too.

Photo of Michelle Ibarra

Michelle Ibarra

US Environmental Protection Agency

Michelle Ibarra is the EPA open source manager responsible for implementing the new White House policy and is the colead for the EPA’s Developers Guild, a community of practice for sharing, collaborating and exchanging best practices to innovate and develop the best environmental software applications that protect human health and the environment. Michelle’s background includes study in user experience design. She holds a BS in mechanical engineering from the University of Maryland at College Park.

Photo of Jason Duley

Jason Duley


Jason Duley is the program manager for NASA’s open data and code sharing programs. Jason has served as a software developer on many exciting projects over his 17 years at NASA, including integrating and developing new NASA business systems, leading development for instrumentation integration with satellite ground systems, and, most recently, working in the Office of the CIO at NASA headquarters, helping the agency release open source software and building communities with citizens. Jason holds a BS in mechanical engineering and a MS in software engineering from San Jose State University. He runs the NASA open source sites and

Tom Berekyei

Defense Digital Service (DDS)

Tom Bereknyei is a software engineer with Defense Digital Service. Tom is an advocate to bring best practices to the government and military. He is currently focused on empowering developers in government who want to participate in, contribute to, and collaborate with the open source community. Along with a team at DDS, he has worked on a strategy to allow federal employees to reuse standard open source licenses for their work. As a developer he has worked on wide ranging topics from neural networks to functional programming and declarative configuration management. Tom is an active duty Marine and served overseas as a Naval Flight Officer as well as a cyberspace operations planner.