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, titles, and lots of other useful information about staff. It also will empower future analyses around employment in the House of Representatives, including discussions of legislative capacity and staff retention.

Until now, this information was only available through private vendors–for a fee–so the launch of the phone book amounts to a democratization of information about our elected representatives.

Using responsive design, so that it works on mobile devices, the phone directory allows anyone to obtain phone numbers and address information for any House staffer via a cleverly-designed interface. You can sort by member office, committee, or search for a particular staffer.

A screenshot of the new telephone directory website.

It’s also possible to download the underlying data set, whether as a CSV or PDF. This may save the House money on printing directories and provide more up-to-date information, particularly as staff move around all the time. The website was built by the Clerk and is extensible, so it may become possible to include the staff issue areas at a future date.

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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The Library of Congress announced that the legislative information website THOMAS is scheduled to stop functioning on July 5, with to replace its functionality. This will allow the Library to focus all its energy on instead of having also to maintain a very awkward, 21-year-old website.

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Bulk Data Task Force Meets Wednesday 4/27 at 10:30

The Congressional Bulk Data Task Force will meet this Wednesday at 10:30 am in the Legislative Resource Center in the Cannon Building near room 133. The Library of Congress graciously has offered to host the event online– go here after 10:15ish for a live feed. On the agenda: Opening comments Discussion — Bill Status XML […]

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3 Cheers for the Door Stop Awards

The OpenGov Foundation hosted the Door Stop Awards yesterday, which recognized the largely (but not entirely) unsung efforts to open the doors of Congress to the American people. Last night, at the first ever Door Stop Awards last night, six Members of Congress and congressional staff were honored by the open government community for their […]

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Join us for the first Door Stop Awards for Transparency!

In a time of ad hoc victories, partisanship and short-term thinking, The OpenGov Foundation is excited to announce an award for those who created structural changes inside public institutions that result in long-term transparency. They didn’t just open the door to the public, they installed a door stop to ensure that it never closes again. […]

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