New format of congressional documents creates transparency, opportunity
Today, in a major win for the open data community, the Government Printing Office partnered with the Library of Congress to make summaries for House bills available in XML format.
Bill summaries can now be downloaded in bulk from GPO’s Federal Digital System or FDsys. This format allows the data to be repurposed and reused by third-party providers, whether for mobile apps, analytical purposes or data mashups.
“This is the result of an effective ongoing collaboration between the Library and GPO to provide legislative information in modern, widely used formats,” said Librarian of Congress James Billington. “We are pleased the popular bill summaries, which provide objective descriptions of complex legislative text, are now available through the Federal Digital System.”
The movement for more transparent government data gained traction in the House Appropriations Committee and its support of the task force on bulk data established by the House.
House bills, the Federal Register, the Code of Federal Regulations as well as various executive branch documents are currently available in XML downloadable format, but this latest development is different. These bill summaries are prepared by LOC’s Congressional Research Service and describe the key provisions of a piece of legislation, and explain the potential implications the legislation may have on current federal programs and laws.
“GPO and the LOC have been important partners in working toward House leadership’s goal of increasing transparency by making more data available in bulk data formats,” said Karen Haas, clerk of the House. “The successful completion of the bill summaries project marks another positive step in that direction.”
A bill was introduced earlier this month to the House Committee on Rules and Administration to change the name of the Government Printing Office to the Government Publishing Office.