I spent the day at the Tech@State conference at the U.S. State Department and I am reinvigorated about the progress of Drupal adoption in government! We hope and expect this to be further reinforced by the Alpha release of OpenPublic on Monday. Right now OpenPublic is moving towards being a community initiative to provide a government-focused distribution in Drupal that will provide an avenue for developers and organizations here in the U.S. to take more aggressive steps toward changing government on the web.

What is particularly gratifying about Drupal’s dramatic rise in popularity is that decision-makers in government — after years of struggling through costly, inflexible proprietary IT frameworks — are finally saying, “We hear you” to citizens and open source advocates alike. The debate is shifting in ways we hoped, but we never could have predicted how quickly they are happening.

I talked about this trend in a three-part series on Drupal in government that I wrote for GovFresh last year. But here’s the gist of it now, almost a year later:

In the last year, we have seen the following major Drupal projects here in Washington (among many others I am not listing):

As someone involved in many of these projects, I often get the question "why are these agencies moving to Drupal so quickly". Here are my favorite reasons:

  1.  Administrators in the public-sector have spent far too much time planning and procuring (not to mention configuring, customizing and maintaining) proprietary and custom systems that don’t meet the new standards and ideas being set forth by the Open Government Initiative (OGI). The Drupal framework is open, collaborative, can be deployed quickly, and can be implemented to align with OGI guidelines. Government is listening and acting. And the public is responding.
  2. The recession is real for government technology, too — citizens want more access to public data and services, immediately, and without having to pay more for it. The call for cost efficiency is answered by Drupal. We’ve known all along that we can make data work better — both for citizens and government. As The White House itself started demonstrating this when it made the shift to Drupal, the movement gained major momentum.
  3. Innovation is alive and well here in the Drupal community. And tapping into this jackpot is yet another primary driver behind why government is adopting Drupal. There are far too many smart people around the world whose individual work can (collectively) facilitate positive change in America’s technology infrastructure — and, as a result, better (and more efficiently) impact policy. Our recent collaboration and release of the Ideation Feature for the Department of Education as blogged on Development Seed’s blogpost yesterday, is a small example of the collaborative innovations Drupal shops are making publicly available every day.

To learn more about the ongoing trend of Drupal adoption, check out our other posts on OpenPublic.