API Management Across All Government Agencies
This isn’t a new drum beat for me, but is one I wanted to pick it up again as part of the federal government research and speaking I’m doing this month. It is regarding the management of APIs across federal government. In short, helping agencies successfully secure, meter, analyze, and develop awareness of who is using government API resources. API management is a commodity in the private technology sector, and is something that has been gaining momentum in government circles, but we have a lot more work ahead to get things where we need them.
The folks over at 18F have done a great job of helping bake API management into government APIs using API Umbrella, resulting in these twelve federal agencies:
- BusinessUSA.gov API
- Department of Agriculture
- Department of Commerce
- Department of Education
- Federal Communications Commission
- Federal Election Commission
- Food and Drug Administration
- General Services Administration
- National Aeronautics and Space Administration
- National Institutes of Health
- National Renewable Energy Laboratory
- Regulations.gov API
This doesn’t just mean that each of these agencies are managing their APIs. It also means that all of these agencies are managing their APIs in a consistent way, using a consistent tool. Something that is allowing these agencies to effectively manage:
- API Key Usage - How to use your API key after signing up.
- Web Service Rate Limits - Daily and hourly rate limits on accessing api.data.gov APIs.
- General Web Service Errors - General error codes that can be returned by any api.data.gov API.
- HTTPS Usage - Information about HTTPS usage on api.data.gov.
I know that both 18F and USDS are working are hard on this, but this is an area we need agencies to step up in, as well as the private sector. We need any vendor doing API deployment projects for any agency to work together to make sure their agency is using a standardized approach. This means that vendors should make the investment when it comes to reaching out to the GSA, and 18F to make sure you are up to speed on what is needed to leverage the work already in motion at api.data.gov.
Doing API management in a consistent way across ALL federal government APIs is super critical to all of this scaling as we all envision. The federal government possess a wealth of valuable data and content that can benefit the private sector. This isn’t just about making the federal government more transparent and observable, this is also about making these valuable resources available in a usable, sustainable way to the private sector–industries will be better off for it. I’m happy to see the progress these twelve agencies have made when it comes to API management, but we need to get to work helping every other agency play catch up, making it something that is baked into ALL API deployment projects by default.