The U.S. Code Arrives In XML


The US Capitol.Good news: for the first time, the U.S. Code is being published in a usable, open format, directly from the government! Alex Howard tells the story here. This has been a long time coming; House leadership deserves enormous credit for making it a reality.

Prior to today, the best, most complete digital source for the laws of our country was a file that was typically used for printing them out. Civic hackers could download it, decode it, and make inferences about the document’s hierarchy based on its printed margins. If this approach sounds brittle and ridiculous, it’s because it was. Now we have the Code in XML — a form that’s robust, easy to understand and free of technical or IP roadblocks.

As my colleague Eric notes in Alex’s writeup, the open government developer community is already making use of the release: our friend Josh Tauberer pushed a commit to the unitedstates repo just about four hours ago. Not bad turnaround!

Kudos to the House for continuing to set a great example for the rest of government. We’re looking forward to hacking on this new dataset for a long time to come.