Today, the House of Representatives announced it will host a full-day conference on public access to legislative information on Thursday, February 2. This is a big deal. It will bring together the people who create and encode legislative materials and the people that use (and transform) that information. This announcement follows on the recent launch of a House transparency portal, which in of itself will change how the public makes use of legislative information.
Entitled "Legislative Data and Transparency," the conference will include discussion of how legislative information is created, how it is made available to the public, what the impact is of current levels of public access, what improved public access would look like from a technological perspective, and the benchmarks to determine and benefits that would come from a truly transparency Congress.
In May 2007, the Sunlight Foundation gathered a coalition of organizations to make recommendations on what an open House of Representatives should look like. While some of the recommendations have been implemented, five years on there's still a lot to do. Deepening communication between those on the "inside" and "outside" will only help to make Congress a more responsive, efficient, and transparent institution.
This conference has been a long time in the making, and I congratulate the often unsung congressional staff who have labored long hours to make it happen, as well as the political leaders who have demonstrated the determination to make this happen. I also must disclose that I've provided advice about what I think the conference should look like.
I hope this serves as a kick-off to many more discussion between those inside and outside Congress about how to fully bring it into the Internet age. RSVP here.