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White House open sources petitions app

The White House has open-sourced the We The People petitions application. The application enables people to petition the Obama administration to take action on a range of issues. The project's file states: "Releasing the source code for this application is meant to empower other governments and organizations to use this platform to engage their own citizens and constituencies. In addition, public review and contribution to the application's code base will help strengthen and improve the platform."

On the White House blog, director of digital strategy Macon Phillips further explained the reasoning, and said by sharing technology, governments can enable citizens to do the same, to take code and put it to their own use, and also to further improve existing systems.

The move follows the White House's digital plan and its emphasis on openness, which federal chief information officer Steven VanRoekel said would make "government more efficient and able to adapt to inevitable changes in technology". Similar sentiments have been echoed in the United Kingdom's GOV.UK and open data plans, and further backed by developers such as Richard Harvey, responsible for Support for Open Standards.

Nine Four managing director Nathan Pitman welcomed the White House's latest move: "I think it's a good thing: it shows a deeper level of openness 'within government' and over time this can only bubble up and outwards — and hopefully to the top. It's fantastic to see bodies like the White House following the lead of GOV.UK, embracing platforms like GitHub and inviting us to really 'see' and get involved in what they are working on."

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