We’ve seen a significant growth in the number of APIs in government, but to date most of these APIs are read-only, meaning you can just retrieve content or data from these APIs, not actually add, update or delete any of the resources made available via these APis.
I've written about the lack of write APIs in government before, trying to kickstart the conversation amongst existing API advocates at various agencies, and now 18F, the elite tech group at the GSA is doing the same. 18F has a page dedicated to the conversation around write APIs in government, with eight active examples of write APIs, nine potential examples, and two that are "under consideration".
What 18F is doing, is a key part of the process that will demonstrate to existing API owners at government agencies, that write APIs are possible, by showcasing the existing implementations, as well as others that are under development. Agencies need clear examples to follow, reassuring them that this is possible in government, giving them potential mentors, and in some cases incentivize agencies by making them feel they are behind the curve, and missing out on opportunities to lead when serving their constituents.
The importance thate government agencies have read / write APIs goes beyond the obvious benefits around content and data being more complete and up to date--a two way street, when it comes to API operations requires a more dedicated approach, bringing agencies closer to both private and public sector partners who will be consuming and contributing to the API(s). This process reduces the chance an API will be launched and forgotten about, which really does nobody any good, and contributes to giving APIs in government a bad name.
If you work at a federal agency, or are a contractor working on APIs within government, make sure and reach out to 18F and see how you can be part of this significant change in how federal government operates. For all of this API stuff to work, APIs in government must be a two way street.