Keeping the Pledge: Docs.House.Gov Goes Live, Legislative Data to Be Posted in XML Format
As part of the open government initiative led by Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), and in accordance with House rules, the Clerk of the House of Representatives has launched a new website (docs.House.gov) where legislative data “will be posted in an XML format,” reports CQ.
The Sunlight Foundation calls docs.House.gov “a one stop website where the public can access all House bills, amendments, resolutions for floor consideration, and conference reports in XML, as well as information on floor proceedings and more.” See the data to be made available here and the new site here:
“Making legislative data easily available in machine-readable formats is a big victory for open government, and another example of the new majority keeping its pledge to make Congress more open and accountable,” said Speaker Boehner.
In fact, the road to this new centralized site began with the Pledge to America “to ensure transparency and accountability in Congress.” When the House adopted new rules last January, Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-CA) says “for the first time,” the House began promoting the use of “electronic files rather than paper printed at taxpayer expense, cutting costs and increasing public access.”
Speaker Boehner and Leader Cantor “directed House Clerk Karen Haas to work with the Committee on House Administration to establish electronic data standards for the House to make information more easily accessible to the public,” reports The Hill. After months of hard work, the House Administration Committee approved these new standards in December. And now docs.House.gov is up and running.
“This is a commitment made, and one that is being kept,” says Sunlight.
Taken together with rules requiring legislation be posted online at least three days before a vote, docs.House.gov will help prevent the abuses of past Congresses that forced votes on long, expensive, job-crushing bills that nobody had seen or read.
Or as House Administration Committee Chairman Dan Lungren (R-CA) put it, “Improving access to legislative information will spur greater public participation and ultimately improve the legislative process.” It is yet another innovation by the “most digitally inclined Congress in U.S. history.”
“This is significant structural change that will make the House of Representatives more transparent and connected with the American public,” said Leader Cantor. “I appreciate the hard work of all the Members, Committees and House Officers involved, particularly the Clerk of the House, for their efforts to deliver this reform and make Congress more accessible.”
“Chairman Lungren, Chairman Dreier, and the House Clerk have done a terrific job developing and implementing these new data standards, and I thank them for their leadership and hard work,” said Speaker Boehner. “I'm proud that the People's House is once again leading the way in using technology to better connect the American people with their government.”