Cruz, Peters introduce bill prodding agencies to share custom code

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The lawmakers say that existing policies on sharing such code aren’t being implemented by agencies.

Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Gary Peters, D-Mich., want to make sure that agencies share custom code with each other through a new bill introduced last week.

The Source Code Harmonization and Rescue in Information Technology, or SHARE IT, Act would mandate that agencies publicly list custom code that is either developed in-house or procured and share it across the government.

The legislation is necessary, according to its sponsors, because there has been poor implementation of existing policy from 2016 instructing agencies to inventory all of their custom code and make it available to other agencies. 

The senators say the goal of their legislation is to reduce duplication of similar software procurements and reap associated cost savings for the government.

“Each year, federal agencies spend billions for software that may be duplicative because it is not shared between agencies, despite existing infrastructure to do so,” said Cruz in a statement.

The bill would mandate that agencies make custom code available in a repository accessible to other feds and update their contracts to ensure that the government retains enough access to enable other agencies to access and modify the code. 

Agency CIOs would also be tapped to develop policies to implement the law, and the federal CIO would be in charge of establishing minimum reporting standards for agencies, issuing guidance on implementation and reporting to lawmakers on implementation. The bill also includes some exceptions to that sharing mandate, such as classified source code or code developed primarily for a national security system.

“Ensuring the federal government is sharing code across agencies will save taxpayers money, increase digital efficiency for government services, strengthen security and enable innovation in software,” Peters, who co-sponsored the proposal, said in a statement. “This bipartisan bill is a critical step forward in advancing the digital capacity of the federal government and will benefit Americans as they access government services online.”