House “Doubled Down On its Pledge to Keep Innovating” By Expanding Docs.House.Gov
“The House has doubled down on its pledge to keep innovating,” says the Sunlight Foundation, “and has begun to release what promises to be an expansive set of committee information” on docs.House.gov.
This month, the Clerk of the House opened a new, public, user-friendly repository for committee information on docs.House.gov. The updated site includes recorded votes, bills, meeting notices, witness lists and testimony, and much more (see the list of required documents here). You can:
- View House committee activities and information by day, week, and month, or search by committee or document;
- Subscribe to unique RSS feeds for each committee (here’s Oversight & Government Reform, for example);
- Download all of the information in XML (see “Download Meeting XML” for this Energy & Commerce markup); and more.
“The docs.House.gov project makes it even easier for Americans to follow and engage in the legislative process,” said Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). “It’s another victory for open government, and everyone involved – from the Clerk’s office, to House Administration, to our committees and staff – deserves credit for their ongoing commitment to making the House more open and accountable.”
“Today's announcement represents a significant step forward in the effort to modernize Congressional institutions,” said Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA). “While there remains much more to do, the inclusion of committee legislative data on docs.House.gov represents the kind of structural reform necessary to build a more open and transparent Congress.”
The House first adopted new rules in early 2011 that made posting documents “in electronic format” a priority for the institution. The House Rules Committee immediately began publishing electronic copies of bills to meet the new “read the bill” requirement. Speaker Boehner and Leader Cantor then asked the House Clerk and House Administration Committee to develop new electronic data standards that would make it easier to post legislative information in machine-readable formats.
After months of hard work, the House Administration Committee approved new standards in December 2011. By January 2012, docs.House.gov was up and running with bills being considered on the House floor. One year later, committee information has been added to the mix. And that’s not all:
- House bills and floor summaries are now available for download in bulk XML (a task force was created last year to expedite the process of providing bulk access to legislative data);
- The House floor, House committee hearings, and Speaker Boehner’s events are now streamed live online to desktops, tablets, and mobile devices;
- Low-cost video conferencing tools are now available for lawmakers to engage and keep in contact with their constituents;
- The Library of Congress developed an app for the Congressional Record, and unveiled beta.Congress.gov -- a new, robust “site for accessing free, fact-based legislative information”;
- The House Administration Committee hosted a Legislative Data and Transparency Conference, Leader Cantor and Democratic Whip Hoyer hosted a “Hackathon” to explore “connections between legislative data, constituent correspondence, and social media”; and much more.