O Conan! Where art thou? Legal treatise a no-show


Seven months ago, the order was given for the legal treatise, known as the Constitution Annotated (or CONAN), to be published online, but so far without result. CONAN is a government publication that explains the Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court. The Joint Committee on Printing directed the Congressional Research Service and the Government Printing Office provide “enhanced access” to that document, which means that CONAN should be published online as it is updated, albeit as a searchable PDF and not the structured data format that we (and many others) requested.

A frequently updated version of the Constitution Annotated is available to congressional staff on Congress’ internal website — and in the structured data format that we want. All that’s available to the public, however, is a decade-old copy, and a handful of scatter-shot updates. What’s strangely funny is that only a few minutes work would be required to publish the Congress-only version of CONAN online, but transforming CONAN into the much-less useful PDF version has taken seven months … and counting. Perhaps some lessons could be learned from last week’s Committee on House Administration hearing on modernizing information delivery in the House.

Tomorrow, the Joint Committee on Printing and the Joint Committee on the Library will hold a very rare public meeting. It’s for organizational purposes — 6 months after Congress convened — so don’t get too excited. Movement is measured slowly, especially since the JCP’s website hasn’t been updated in several years. But if you’re so inclined, the hearing is set for 11:30am in SC6, which is on the Senate side of the US. Capitol. We’ll see you there.