Use of GitHub in Public Administration in Canada: Open Innovation in Code, Web and Prose
GitHub is a web-based project hosting service, principally used for distributed version control of software and website development projects. As of early 2014, the site has more than 5 million registered users working on over 12 million projects making it the largest hosting platform of its type. Increasing attention is being paid to the use of GitHub as a platform for document collaboration, with the possibility that it could serve to revolutionize the practice of knowledge sharing within organizations and of open governance amongst citizens and their governments. While the impact of GitHub has thus far largely been limited to open source software and website development, the present and potential impact on collaborative document development and citizen engagement suggests that a broader cast of public administrators should begin to consider the relevance of these tools for their work.
This project will review the existing literature on the use of GitHub for software and website development, and the recent anecdotal reports on its use for open collaboration on documents. With very little research to date on the use of GitHub in public sector institutions, and the absence of any systematic study of the use of GitHub in Canadian public sector settings, this exploratory research will survey this rapidly changing landscape as to how GitHub works and what it is being used for in public sector settings, along with a census of adoption in Canadian governments. Interviews with key government technology leaders and a survey of public service GitHub users will provide a foundation for assessing GitHub as a tool for facilitating public sector collaboration in Canada across a range of activities.
Research Team Members:
- Erik Johnston, professor in the School of Public Affairs and Director of the Center for Policy Informatics at Arizona State University,
- Justin Longo, post-doctoral fellow in the Center for Policy Informatics,
- Tanya Kelley, phd student in the School of Public Affairs.