Ending GovTrack’s bulk data and API

Open legislative data has been a core part of GovTrack’s mission since 2005, when there wasn’t very much of it. We were the first to provide comprehensive information about Congress’s legislative activities in an open, structured data format — a technical format that software developers (building websites and apps), journalists, and researchers used for new and unexpected purposes to create a more open and accountable government.

Eventually other organizations and Congress itself joined the effort. Official data from Congress reached new heights this year, after a long campaign by us and other advocates, and organizations like ProPublica have become data providers too.

Consequently, I’ve decided that it is time for us to end our work on open data so we can use our time more effectively on other parts of GovTrack.us.

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Why I Came To Believe CRS Reports Should be Publicly Available (and Built a Website to Make it Happen)

I first started working for Congress as a senate intern in September 2001. I was 23 years old and had no experience working on policy. I found myself responding to letters from constituents on issues that I’d never heard of previously. It was then that I first encountered the Congressional Research Service and its reports. […]

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Five bad arguments against public access to CRS reports

This week the progressive organization Demand Progress, along with the Congressional Data Coalition, launched EveryCRSReport.com. This new project site makes available, with the help of friendly Congressional offices, all Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports on Congress’ own internal site. The public now has access to more than 8,200 reports in one searchable database (you can […]

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It’s Time To Make Taxpayer-Funded Congressional Reports Available To The Public

This piece was originally published in the Daily Caller and co-authored by R Street Institute technology policy program director Zach Graves. American taxpayers support the $140 million a year expenditures of the Congressional Research Service, an independent and highly influential think tank housed within the Library of Congress. The agency’s mission is to advise members and committees […]

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House launches a public-facing phone directory for all staff

As promised at the 2016 Legislative Data and Transparency Conference, the House of Representatives launched a public-facing phone directory for all its staff. This is a tremendously useful tool. It provides authentic, up-to-date information on the people who work in the people’s house. While it (reasonably) does not contain email addresses, it has phone numbers, […]

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Report from the 2016 Legislative Data & Transparency Conference

Today the House of Representatives’ Committee on House Administration hosted its fifth annual Legislative Data & Transparency Conference in the U.S. Capitol. The Conference brought together staff from House and Senate and legislative support offices, civil society advocates, technologists, overseas legislatures, and featured a speech by House Speaker Paul Ryan. More than 150 people attended, […]

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2016 Legislative Data and Transparency Conference is this Tuesday, June 21

The House’s Legislative Data and Transparency Conference is this Tuesday, June 21, from 9-4, in the Capitol Visitor Center auditorium in Washington, DC. RSVP here. The conference brings together individuals from Legislative Branch agencies with data users and transparency advocates to foster a conversation about the use of legislative data – addressing how agencies use technology […]

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House of Reps’ Spending Info Is Now Online as Data

Yesterday the House of Representatives began publishing its spending data online as a spreadsheet (and continued publishing it online as a PDF file). As Josh Tauberer explains in Open Government Data: The Book, the compilation of spending data, known as the Statements of Disbursements, includes “how much congressmen and their staffs are paid, what kinds of […]

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Data Coalition Celebrates New Open Data Law on Capitol Hill

On Wednesday, the Data Coalition hosted a Legislative Data Demo Day to show what’s possible when we make our laws and legislation more accessible. Across all of our policy initiatives, the Data Coalition encourages federal and state governments to create or collect data in machine-readable structures using non-proprietary formats. This past Wednesday we explored how […]

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Next Steps in Congressional Openness: News from the May Bulk Data Task Force Meeting

The 21 year-old legislative information website THOMAS will be retired on July 5 was the top news from last Wednesday’s congressional Bulk Access to Legislative Data public meeting. The fact that THOMAS was shutting down was not news, but the timing was. While it didn’t generate a story in the press, two other developments are particularly important regarding […]

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