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The General Services Administration API Strategy Considers How To Generate Revenue

The General Services Administration(GSA) has an API strategy, which describes “GSA’s future direction for agency­wide API management including design, development, architecture, operations, and support, and security.” Ok, let’s pause there. I want to point out that this isn’t just an API design guide. That is a portion of it, but it also touches on some of the most obvious (deployment), and the most critical aspects (security) of API operation–important stuff.

The objectives for the GSA crafting an API strategy are:

­* Harness API management to maximize customer value and technical efficiencies. ­* Adopt industry best practices with API design, development, and management. ­* Consider opportunities for revenue through API offerings.

I always enjoy seeing federal agencies talk about efficiencies and best practices, but it gives me hope that all of this might actually work when I see federal agencies actually “considering opportunities for revenue through API offerings”. Especially at the GSA, who provides technical guidance to the other 400+ federal agencies, as well as at the state and municipal level. I am not excited about our government charging money for digital resources, I am excited about our government exploring how it will generate revenue to sustain itself in the future.

I know there are a lot of open data advocates who can’t wrap their mind around this, but this is how the government will generate needed tax revenue to operate in the future–using APIs. Our government currently generates a portion of its revenue from the sale of physical resources like timber, mining, and agriculture, why should things be different when it comes to taxing and regulating digital resources being made available via the web, mobile, and device applications. While there is still lots to figure out on this front, I am glad to see the GSA putting some thought into the role APIs will play in the future of funding the government services we all depend on each day.