The Recap: Library of Congress 2022 Virtual Public Forum

On September 21, 2022, the Library of Congress held its 2022 Virtual Public Forum on the Library’s role in providing access to legislative information. You can find summaries of the 2020 and 2021 forums here and here. It is our understanding that video of the proceedings will be made publicly available, and we will update this blogpost when that happens.

The forum mainly focused on Congress.gov and access to legislative information through electronic means, although it included significant discussion on digitization efforts. Legislative branch stakeholders made presentations on their work, including the House Clerk, Secretary of the Senate, the Government Publishing Office, the Congressional Budget Office, the Law Library of Congress, and the Congressional Research Service. The Library noted several hundred individuals RSVPed, and participants voiced their appreciation for the forum and recommended continuing it in the future.

An agenda was not released in advance of the meeting, which lasted 3 hours, and covered recent enhancements to Congress.gov, its features and new releases, recent projects, updates from data partners, a presentation from the Congressional Budget Office on its transparency efforts, a discussion of legislative data standards, a presentation on the Constitution Annotated, a brief history of Congress.gov and THOMAS, and a Q&A at the end. We suggest that, for future meetings, the agenda and rough timing be published in advance.

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Drafting Legislation Just Got Easier. Introducing BillToText.com

Drafting legislation in Congress can be a daunting process. Typically, staffers provide an outline of the desired bill to the Office of Legislative Counsel (OLC), and an OLC attorney drafts the legislation. This often is an iterative process, with OLC asking questions and congressional staff updating their ideas.

This process can create problems for staff when they request feedback from other congressional offices or outside stakeholders. OLC sends the draft back as a PDF, which staffers can’t change on their own and other stakeholders cannot edit. This makes it hard to collaborate.  

We’ve tried to find a way to improve how Members solicit and receive feedback. We’re proud to introduce BillToText.com, a tool for more efficient drafting. 

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