THOMAS reform update

1 view
Skip to first unread message

John Wonderlich

unread,
Jan 24, 2008, 10:24:46 AM1/24/08
to openhous...@googlegroups.com
Good to see some progress being made here.  From the sub-only nat'l journal's tech daily:


E-Government
Lawmakers Favor Outside Access To Legislative Data
by Aliya Sternstein <mailto:aster...@nationaljournal.com>  

     The legislative process could become a lot more exciting if lawmakers get their way in freeing the data inside the Library of Congress' legislative Internet database so that independent Web sites can repackage the information.
     In November, the House Administration Committee asked the library to explore solutions for supplying the public with raw legislative information from the database, dubbed THOMAS <http://thomas.loc.gov/> , committee spokesman
Kyle Anderson said on Wednesday.
     "The library is looking into the resources that would be required to make this data available," spokesman Guy Lamolinara confirmed. A report to the committee is expected during the first part of the calendar year.
     "By providing an open legislative database to the public," sites could "better tap into the knowledge of the American people," said Democratic Rep.
Mike Honda of California, who along with Rep. Zoe Lofgren , D-Calif., has made the same request of the library.
     Web sites like the online encyclopedia Wikipedia that anyone can modify, as well as the Linux computer-operating system, whose underlying code can be read and altered, demonstrate the benefits of open systems, Honda added.
     At a recent hearing, Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman
Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., also recommended that the library present Senate votes in a structured format so citizens can have a better look at the records of their elected officials.
     
Rob Pierson, Honda's online communications director and president of the House System Administrators Association, said that currently, Honda's site must rely on links to show visitors his most recent votes and sponsored bills.
     THOMAS' data would let his office display the information on Honda's own site and allow bloggers to embed automatic notifications of updates, known as "trackbacks," to bills sponsored by Honda, Pierson said. Access to the raw data "would encourage an explosion of innovative Web sites."
     One beneficiary of the proposal may be linguistics graduate student
Joshua Tauberer, who has already launched GovTrack.us, a noncommercial Web site that compiles the status of legislation and voting records from THOMAS.
     If the data were made available as a bulk download or delivered in slices, it would fill some of the gaps on GovTrack, Tauberer said. Currently, the site cannot reliably obtain a daily list of the bills that have been updated, and some bills show up on GovTrack with outdated information.
     The data is important because no single view into the workings of Congress is best for everyone, he added. "Reporters, kids and citizens at large want to see Congress from different angles and want to see different connections exposed between votes, legislation, money, earmarks, etc."
     But the change likely would affect paid-subscription sites that charge for legislative updates. Their "business model will need to evolve to compete with citizen technologists," Sunlight Foundation Program Director
John Wonderlich said. Companies may need to add more substantial analysis in order to compete with free services, he added.
     There also may be resistance from congressional administrators, who "are often wary of taking on new departmental responsibilities if they are not accompanied by statutory justification or appropriations," Wonderlich said.

<http://nationaljournal.com/pubs/techdaily/pmedition/tp080123.htm#top%23top>


--
John Wonderlich

Program Director
The Sunlight Foundation
(202) 742-1520 ext. 234
image.gif
image.gif

Patrice McDermott

unread,
Jan 25, 2008, 9:52:55 AM1/25/08
to Open House Project
Here is the url for it through GovExec.com --
http://www.govexec.com/story_page.cfm?filepath=/dailyfed/0108/012308tdpm1.htm

Patrice McDermott

On Jan 24, 10:24 am, "John Wonderlich" <johnwonderl...@gmail.com>
wrote:
> Good to see some progress being made here. From the sub-only nat'l
> journal's tech daily:
>
> *E-Government*
> *Lawmakers Favor Outside Access To Legislative Data
> *by Aliya Sternstein
> <mailto:asternst...@nationaljournal.com><asternst...@nationaljournal.com>
>
> The legislative process could become a lot more exciting if lawmakers
> get their way in freeing the data inside the Library of Congress'
> legislative Internet database so that independent Web sites can repackage
> the information.
> In November, the House Administration Committee asked the library to
> explore solutions for supplying the public with raw legislative information
> from the database, dubbed THOMAS
> <http://thomas.loc.gov/><http://thomas.loc.gov/>, committee spokesman
> *Kyle Anderson* said on Wednesday.
> "The library is looking into the resources that would be required to
> make this data available," spokesman Guy Lamolinara confirmed. A report to
> the committee is expected during the first part of the calendar year.
> "By providing an open legislative database to the public," sites could
> "better tap into the knowledge of the American people," said Democratic Rep.
> *Mike Honda* of California, who along with Rep. *Zoe Lofgren* , D-Calif.,
> has made the same request of the library.
> Web sites like the online encyclopedia Wikipedia that anyone can
> modify, as well as the Linux computer-operating system, whose underlying
> code can be read and altered, demonstrate the benefits of open systems,
> Honda added.
> At a recent hearing, Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
> Committee Chairman *Joseph Lieberman*, I-Conn., also recommended that the
> library present Senate votes in a structured format so citizens can have a
> better look at the records of their elected officials.
> *Rob Pierson*, Honda's online communications director and president of
> the House System Administrators Association, said that currently, Honda's
> site must rely on links to show visitors his most recent votes and sponsored
> bills.
> THOMAS' data would let his office display the information on Honda's
> own site and allow bloggers to embed automatic notifications of updates,
> known as "trackbacks," to bills sponsored by Honda, Pierson said. Access to
> the raw data "would encourage an explosion of innovative Web sites."
> One beneficiary of the proposal may be linguistics graduate
> student *Joshua
> Tauberer*, who has already launched GovTrack.us, a noncommercial Web site
> that compiles the status of legislation and voting records from THOMAS.
> If the data were made available as a bulk download or delivered in
> slices, it would fill some of the gaps on GovTrack, Tauberer said.
> Currently, the site cannot reliably obtain a daily list of the bills that
> have been updated, and some bills show up on GovTrack with outdated
> information.
> The data is important because no single view into the workings of
> Congress is best for everyone, he added. "Reporters, kids and citizens at
> large want to see Congress from different angles and want to see different
> connections exposed between votes, legislation, money, earmarks, etc."
> But the change likely would affect paid-subscription sites that charge
> for legislative updates. Their "business model will need to evolve to
> compete with citizen technologists," Sunlight Foundation Program Director *John
> Wonderlich* said. Companies may need to add more substantial analysis in
> order to compete with free services, he added.
> There also may be resistance from congressional administrators, who
> "are often wary of taking on new departmental responsibilities if they are
> not accompanied by statutory justification or appropriations," Wonderlich
> said.
>
> <http://nationaljournal.com/pubs/techdaily/pmedition/tp080123.htm#top%...>
> <http://nationaljournal.com/pubs/techdaily/pmedition/tp080123.htm#top%...>
>
> --
> John Wonderlich
>
> Program Director
> The Sunlight Foundation
> (202) 742-1520 ext. 234
>
> image.gif
> 1KViewDownload
>
> image.gif
> 1KViewDownload
Reply all
Reply to author
Forward
0 new messages