2 Easy Wins for your Congressional Website


Lots of Members of Congress are busily updating their website. It seems these days that we’re getting lots of brilliantly designed congressional websites as the innovation in design from the campaigns trickles ever so slowly into government.

If you’re helping to build your Member of Congress’ website, I’d like to ask you to do two things:

First Publish your “Congressional Project Requests,” both appropriation requests and non-appropriation requests in a standard, parseable format. We even wrote one for you, and if you use it, I promise that we will laud you with praise! When we say parseable, what we mean is, able for computers to figure out what’s what on the page by adding consistent, named HTML tags to each project request.

Also, publish them all on one page in this format. There’s no need to sort them out by legislation. And please, stop posting them as scanned, non searchable PDFs (I’m looking at you, Rodney Alexander.) Just Stop.

Taking it a step further: if you’re office is publishing your earmark requests in PDF instead of a more readable format like HTML, then please consider changing as this is not satisfactory.

Second: If you publish your Calendar online, also publish it in a standard format like iCal. Senator Begich, for instance, should be commended for putting it all out there– every meeting is on his website! But it isn’t in a format that anyone can use. While I applaud the Senator for doing a great job on fulfilling his campaign promises, I wish he’d publish this data for his constituents in iCal so that they could make better use of the information.

I’m sure there’s a dozen other things that I could recommend– things like publishing your personal financial disclosure forms online, and providing the bills that you sponsor in machine readable formats, but really– just these two things are great!

So if you’re a hill staffer or even a Member of Congress, please consider these two things. And if you need help, feel free to get in touch. If you’re unclear on some of this technical stuff, we’re happy to answer any questions you have. We are more than happy to provide you with instructions on specifically how to do this stuff.