API Coordination And Communication Across Federal Government Agencies

Most of this API stuff isn’t technical. For APIs to work at scale within a single company, a wider industry, or across government agencies, you need people who are committed to evangelism, coaching, and communication around everything that is occurring across API ecosystems. We often times get caught up in our work, and operating within our silos and forget to email, call, and just walk next door sometimes to share stories of what is going on. If you are a regular reader of my work you know how I feel about storytelling, and just how important it is to all of this working or not. Which is why I like to make sure that I showcase the storyelling of other evangelists who are working their magic, and spreading API knowledge within their domains.

I’m a big fan of what the GSA is up to with APIs across the federal government, and specifically what my hero Gray Brooks does to support API efforts acorss multiple federal agencies. He does a lot of legwork, but one thing that has stood out for me is his work to establish an API community of practice, and share relevant API stories on the US Government APIs Google Group. To help highlight what he is up to, and hep amplify the knowledge he puts out there, I wanted to share his latest post from the Google Group in it’s entirety because it is, well, beautiful.

Howdy, folks.  

I hope your week has wrapped up well so far.   As I mentioned back in April, this and other efforts have been formalized as the API Community of Practice, part of Digital.gov's communities of practice program.  I hope you all will put this forum to use, sharing your thoughts, questions, and ideas about federal APIs you're working on or thinking about.   In the meantime, here's some odds and ends that you all may find interesting.  

Last but not least, there's a bunch to see from VA and HHS/CMS that's a pretty big deal.  This is the first time that I've been seeing agency principles actively talking and giving speeches about APIs and API strategies.  This is 100% what needs to be happening across government and I def. recommend diving into these efforts and trying to drive the same at your agencies.  VA is the largest civilian agency in the federal government.  If they can be doing this, so can any of us!   VA


Anyhoo, I'm sure there's much more going on that this.  Definitely share anything you all are finding or working on as it comes up.   In the meantime, take care can have a good holiday weekend.  


  "team": "TTS",
  "company": "GSA",
  "cell": "205.541.2245",
  "links": [{
    "name": "api.data.gov - API analytics for federal agencies",
    "url": "https://api.data.gov"
  }, {
    "name": "US Government API listserve",
    "url": "https://bit.ly/apilistservedc"

It is tough to directly measure the ROI from the work Gray Brooks does in a purely business sense, but this type of outreach and storytelling is ESSENTIAL to APIs working across federal agencies. Gray is paying attention to what is happening across federal agencies and doing the hard work to share relevant stories across teams, agencies, and with the general public. While it would be valuable for each federal agency to do this themselves, it isn’t something that is always in the DNA of each agency, and many teams just don’t have the time or resources to publish stories on a regular basis–making Gray’s work all the more important to the overall health of APIs at the federal level.

We need more Gray Brooks. We tried to clone him at a super top secret agency and failed. He is just too special. His work reflects what needs to exist at every single federal government agency, as well as at the state and municipal levels. We also need this kind of dedicated evangelism and storytelling to exist within industries with healthcare, education, energy, and other specialized API evangelist uncovering the meaningful stories, and working to make them more public. If you aren’t tuned into the Government API Google Group I recommend tuning in. If you don’t know Gray Brooks I recommend going to one of the DC Web API User Group which Gray operates–you’ll likely get a chance to meet him in person, and hear stories of the API change he is making first hand.