Barack Obama Directs All Federal Agencies to Have an API

As a follow-up to the Executive Order 13571 issued on April 27, 2011, requiring executive departments and agencies to identify ways to use innovative technologies to streamline their delivery of services to lower costs, decrease service delivery times, and improve the customer experience--Barack Obama has directed federal agencies to deploy Web APIs.

The Whitehouse CIO has released a strategy, entitled "Digital Government: Building a 21st Century Platform to Better Serve the American People", providing federal agencies with a 12-month plan that focuses on:

  • Enabling more efficient and coordinated digital services delivery
  • Encouraging agencies to deliver information in new ways that fully utilize the power and potential of mobile and web-based technologies
  • Requiring agencies to establish central online resources for outside developers and to adopt new standards for making applicable Government information open and machine-readable by default
  • Requiring agencies to use web performance analytics and customer satisfaction measurement tools

President Obama has set the timeframe for roll-out and accountability at:

  • Within 90 days of the date of this memorandum, create a page on its website, located at www.[agency].gov/digitalstrategy, to publicly report progress in meeting the requirements of the Strategy in a machine-readable format.
  • implement the requirements of the Strategy within 12 months of the date of this memorandum and comply with the timeframes for specific actions specified therein

Ok, can I call 2012, the year of the API now? Of course this announcement makes me extremely excited! This is something I didn't think I'd see in the next 5 years, but of course I'm super skeptical too. Is this something that these agencies are capable of? Is there enough political will to make happen? I sure hope so.

I've seen some good coverage of this news on popular tech blogs, but we'll have to wait 90 days and see ho many agencies have publicly reported on "progress in meeting the requirements of the Strategy in a machine-readable format", and ultimately how much momentum this actually gets--or if it gets forgotten.

As soon as I can find an API with all government agencies and their websites, I will make a monitoring dashboard showing how many agencies have published anything, and what it contains, and report on my findings in 90 days.

UPDATE:  I added the tracking page I talked about above, I will be checking the availability of a digital strategy at each government agency website on a daily basis, and posting the status on my Federal Agency API Tracking Page.