This morning the House is debating passage of the Legislative Branch Appropriations Bill. Rep. Honda, the ranking member of the Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee and a longtime champion for better access to legislative information, spoke on the importance of improved access as part of his broader comments. Here’s that excerpt:
I am privileged to represent Silicon Valley, the center of technological innovation in this country. Since I joined this subcommittee, I have tried to push the House and other agencies to explore technological solutions to issues such as transparency, evacuation management, and data storage.
As you probably know, Federal agencies, including our own in the legislative branch, can be slow to change and adopt new technologies. This is mentioned in the report, which includes language on the issue of bulk data downloads of legislative information, something I requested and secured language about in this bill in fiscal year 2009.
This effort is now also being championed by leadership on both sides of the aisle, as it is a way to increase transparency by allowing the public to easily download and analyze government data.
There are some concerns about cost and the ability to authenticate the data that the language in the report tries to address.
I think, however, that these are relatively simple matters to overcome, as data is already being compiled in a format that can easily be distributed and technology support staff has indicated that only a simple procedure is needed to make the bulk data available.
Furthermore, the GPO already employs an authentication standard for its own accessible bulk data through its FDSys website that we could also utilize.
The House Majority recently announced that it will immediately create a task force, as described in this bill, to expedite a report and implementation of public access to bulk legislative data. While I believe the time to implement this is now, I expect to be included in these efforts as Ranking Member of the Subcommittee and longtime advocate.