Congressional Data Coalition Applauds House Legislative Data Transparency Efforts, Asks for More

On March 6, the Congressional Data Coalition and allies submitted testimony to the House Legislative Branch Appropriations Committee regarding its 2016 appropriation that applauded recent progress in making legislative data more open while urging additional reforms. It is worth repeating the significant progress that has been made and our recommendations for the future, so please find a summary below. The full testimony is here

Recognition of Ongoing House Activities
To begin, we commend the House of Representatives for its ongoing efforts to open up congressional information. We applaud the House of Representatives for publishing online and in a structured data format bill status and summary information—soon to be joined by legislative text—and are pleased the Senate will join these efforts in the 114th Congress. In addition, the website continues to serve as an excellent online source for committee and House floor information, thanks in large part to work performed by the Clerk of the House. Furthermore, the Rules Committee’s website is a tremendous resource for learning about legislation to be considered on the House floor.

We also congratulate the Office of Law Revision Counsel for its ongoing improvements to publication of the US Code, which serve as a showcase of the potential of the House’s efforts. We appreciate the House’s annual conferences on legislative transparency and are looking  to the 2015 conference. And we eagerly await the public roll-out of the Amendment Impact Program and the LRC’s codification tools as well as the quarterly public meetings hosted by the invaluable Bulk Data Task Force.

We also remain hopeful that progress will be made on the Joint Committee on Printing’s obligation to digitize volumes of the Congressional Record from 1873 to 1998.

Summary of Requests

  • Extend and Broaden the Bulk Data Task Force
  • Publish the Congressional Record in XML and eliminate electronic publication gaps
  • Publish a complete and auditable archive of bill text, in a structured electronic format
  • Publish a contemporaneous list of widely distributed CRS reports that contains the report name, publication/revision/withdrawal date, and report ID number
  • Release widely distributed CRS reports to the public
  • Publish the House rules and committee rules in a machine-readable format
  • Publish Bioguide in XML with a change log
  • Publish the Constitution Annotated in a machine-readable format
  • Publish House office and support agency reports online
  • Publish House Expenditure Reports in a machine-readable format