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Make all new source code open and reusable, and publish it under appropriate licences.

First published:
6 February 2020
Last updated:

If this is not possible, provide an explanation of why this cannot be done for specific subsets of the source code.

Why it’s important

Public services are built with public money. So unless there’s a good reason not to, the code they’re based on should be made available for people to reuse and build on.

Developers working in government can use open source code to avoid duplication of work and reduce costs for government as a whole. And publishing source code under an open licence means that you’re less likely to get locked in to working with a single supplier.

What it means

Service teams should:

  • write code in the open from the start, and publish it in an open repository – minus any sensitive information, like secret keys and credentials
  • own the intellectual property of new source code that’s created as part of the service, and make it available for reuse under an open licence

There are a few cases when you should not publish code in the open. For example, code that relates to a sensitive government policy that has not been announced yet.