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APIs have a huge potential and impact in meeting customer/citizen needs to revolutionize the organization and expose its full potential. They help create solutions that provide better customer experiences without increasing the cost significantly. APIs also aid in streamlining business operations.

Over the last decade, we’ve seen many private organizations adopt and harness the power of API-led architecture. From major IT giants to eCommerce, automobiles, and financial sectors — major players across industries have opted for an API-first approach. With so many others making the switch, what’s holding the public and government sector from leveraging the power of APIs?

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The use of APIs in the public and government sector can enable employee collaboration and help them perform their jobs more efficiently, unlock the untapped potential of data, and provide streamlined services that improve citizen wellbeing and change lives.

Additionally, the use of mobile and web applications have increased exponentially over the past few years, and hence government and public sectors are increasing their mediums of communication with customers. An effective API can offer the public new ways to use and interact with government records and services. For example, statistics and data available to the public during the COVID-19 crisis was through the usage of APIs to identify and track the situation in different zones, and people were better educated on the virus including current regulations, spread, and more. Other great examples of utilizing APIs during the COVID-19 pandemic include the Indiana Department of Child Services and New South Wales Health Pathology. The state of Indiana used APIs to enable contact tracing while New South Wales Health Pathology utilized APIs to better integrate healthcare data to meet urgent community needs during the pandemic.

Challenges faced by the government and public sector:

There are several issues and challenges which need to be addressed to make APIOps successful in Government and Public Sector.

  • Legacy systems are used in most government organizations and the data is in silos which hinders the digitization process.
  • The use of monolithic architecture and point-to-point integrations have made the existing systems complicated and there is too much interdependence between a system which makes it difficult to adopt new approaches.
  • Lack of awareness and concerns over security are also one of the major factors in holding them back.

These issues and challenges have made the public domain inflexible and difficult to manage, extend, and reuse which in turn increases the cost and time.  

Adopting an API-led approach 

There are several perks of adopting an API-led approach: reusability, scalability, decentralized APIs, reduction in time to market, high productivity, and hybrid enablement.

Government records and data that were previously isolated and difficult to access will become widely available through APIs. By making use of such APIs themselves, government entities can improve operations to better serve citizens. Certain changes are making it increasingly important for federal, state, and local government bodies and agencies to develop and execute successful API strategies.

Things to be considered while developing Public Sector and Government APIs:

  • Security plays a major role in developing the APIs and hence special attention to be paid while designing the API and implementing security policies.
  • Thorough understanding of the system architecture and the network. 
  • Implement microservices architecture and ensure loosely coupled
  • Migration/up-gradation of the legacy system and redesigning the architecture.

The United States government has embraced certain rules and regulations. Basically, these are the security policies/standards/benchmarks which need to be followed in order to adopt secured digitalization. Let’s understand the basics terminologies involved around these policies:

#1 FedRAMP: The Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) is a government-wide program that provides a standardized approach to security assessment, authorization, and continuous monitoring for cloud products and services.

In order for a federal agency to use a commercial cloud service offering (CSO), FedRAMP Authority to Operate (ATO) is mandatory.

#2 NIST 800-53: NIST Special Publication 800-53 provides a catalog of security and privacy controls for all U.S. federal information systems except those related to national security

#3 CIS Benchmarks: CIS Benchmarks are the best practices for the secure configuration of a target system. They are the only consensus-based, best-practice security configuration guides both developed and accepted by the government, business, industry, and academia.

#4 FIPS-140: The Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) Publication 140-2 is a U.S. government standard that defines minimum security requirements for cryptographic modules.

How can MuleSoft help?

Taking into consideration all the complexities and challenges faced by the government and public sector in developing API, MuleSoft recently introduced MuleSoft Government Cloud for U.S. federal, state, and local government entities. MuleSoft Government Cloud is a secure, FedRAMP-compliant cloud environment that helps government organizations securely deploy applications on the cloud wherein all the security protocol, government-compliance are taken care of through the environment. In a later blog, I will be covering more technical aspects of Government Cloud in detail. 

To conclude, we’ve understood the challenges involved and why the Government and Public sectors are more reluctant towards adopting an API-led approach. To make this API-led process secure and hassle-free MuleSoft has come to the rescue and hence all Government and Public sectors should leverage the MuleSoft Government Cloud feature introduced by MuleSoft which abides all the security rules and regulations to help your organization grow exponentially.

To learn more download the MuleSoft Government Cloud white paper.