Episode 215

Joe Castle on Code.gov


January 12th, 2024

40 mins 46 secs

Your Host
Special Guest

About this Episode


Joseph Castle


Richard Littauer

Show Notes

In this episode, Richard welcomes Joe Castle, Executive Advisor for Strategic Partnerships and Technology at SAS, and he was previously featured on an episode in the FOSSY 2023 series podcasts. Today, they engage in conversations about various aspects of open source and Code.gov, exploring its history, budget changes, and challenges. Joe provides an overview of SAS Institute, its role in analytics and AI software, and its presence in the federal government. The discussion dives into the federal source code policy, its key aspects, and the allocation of the federal IT budget. They explore the idea of making government source code open source and the challenges associated with it, and there’s a discussion on the importance of supporting open source projects and various initiatives in different countries and labs. Press download now to hear more!

[00:01:23] Joe gives us an overview of SAS Institute, its focus on analytics and AI software, and its presence in the federal government and other sectors.

[00:02:08] Joe talks about his background and how he became an advocate for open source software, especially Python, in both personal and professional context. He discusses his role at SAS, which involves promoting open source integration and education.

[00:06:41] We learn about the history of Code.gov, which was born out of the U.S. federal source policy in 2016, and then Joe explains the three key aspects of the federal source code policy: creating a source code policy, updating acquisition language, and publishing an inventory of source code, including at least 20% as open source software.

[00:10:03] Richard mentions the size of the federal IT budget and asks about the allocation of the remaining 93% of the budget. Joe explains that the 93% of the budget goes towards labor, infrastructure, commodity IT, and various IT-related expenses.

[00:14:31] Richard inquires about the availability of a manifest listing all open source packages on Code.gov, and Joseph explains that Code.gov provides agency inventories of their source code, and each agency can decide what to include or exclude from the list based on various factors, including security.

[00:16:31] Joe discusses his involvement with Code.gov, which started when he worked at the White House and volunteered to help implement the federal source code policy.

[00:19:21] Richard asks about the budget for Code.gov and its changes over the years and Joe clarifies that Code.gov had a budget of about a million dollars a year for platform, staff, and related expenses.

[00:20:09] Joe discusses the rise and fall of Code.gov, including policy changes and a decrease in funding, resulting in downsizing and limited maintenance of the website and code.

[00:22:30] The role of the CIO at OMB is brought up and Joe explains that the focus of the federal CIO can shift with changing priorities and administrations.

[00:23:23] Richard asks about how to reinvigorate Code.gov and whether it’s possible to influence the CIO to prioritize it. Joe mentions an interaction with a Senate committee staffer and suggests that getting attention from key decision-makers is essential for pushing such initiatives.

[00:27:34] Richard wonders if there are any internal efforts to track multiple contracts for the same vendors and improve code management. Joe tells us he’s not aware of specific internal efforts but mentions the existence of similar projects in other places.

[00:31:47] Joe notes that there weren’t discussions about financially supporting open source projects at Code.gov, and the focus was on making the code available to the public and raising awareness of its existence.

[00:32:52] Richard discusses the importance of supporting open source projects used by the government and mentions governmental efforts like the Sovereign Tech Fund in Germany. Joe talks about how certain agencies and labs, such as NASA and the Department of Energy, fund open source projects. He also mentions that he once considered making Code.gov an open source project separate from the government but didn’t proceed with the idea, and he mentions the GitHub Government website.

[00:37:06] Find out where you can follow Joe on the internet.


[00:07:06] “Code.gov was born out of the U.S. Federal source code policy.”

[00:18:37] “It’s basically holistically the OSPO for the U.S. federal government.”


  • [00:37:45] Richard’s spotlight is a book series he read called, Bloody Jack by L.A. Meyer.
  • [00:38:27] Joe’s spotlight is some great books he read: The Work by Wes Moore, Still Standing by Larry Hogan, and Bridgebuilders by William D. Eggers and Donald F. Kettl.



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