Finding Python in Unexpected Places: Open Source in the US Federal Government

By Froilan Irizarry Rivera

Elevator Pitch

The US Federal Government is no stranger to Open Source. In the last decade In the last decade, more federal agencies have embraced open source as a crucial part of their software strategies. Python is playing a role in this shift and knowing where to look is critical to getting in on the action.


In the past, many thought government IT was boring or a dead-end career, influenced by the fact that much of the software produced by governments and their contractors was closed off to the public. While some agencies have been open sourcing their code for years, such as NASA, most did not even consider it an option.

During the past decade, there has been a noticeable culture shift. Open Source is now not only an option but in many instances is the default. The embrace of newer software practices have also brought new technologies and players into government.

With this change, Python has appeared as an excellent alternative to the more traditional tech stacks. Everything from websites to data pipelines to advanced algorithms are being written in Python and released as Open Source Software. We will explore some of the Python projects that have been released, as well as my experience in consuming and producing OSS in this space.


In the past 5 years, this topic (OSS in government and civic engagement) has become a passion for me. I’ve had the privilege to have worked with some pretty amazing teams in both local and state governments in Puerto Rico and the US Federal government. These experiences have brought me to my current team, Here we are working to inventory all custom code made by the Federal government.

Internet access would be the only additional tech need my talk would need.