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Tag Archive: Bulk Data

Scout Delivering Court Opinions Through the Awe-Inspiring Power of CourtListener

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[Scout](https://scout.sunlightfoundation.com/), Sunlight Foundation's government search and alert system, is now delivering daily alerts on [federal court opinions](https://scout.sunlightfoundation.com/search/court_opinions/citizens%20united). Court opinions will be included by default — along with regulations, legislation, speeches, and reports — for any alert based on search terms.

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The Library of Congress Really Really Does Not Want To Give You Your Data

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Library of Congress It's 2013, and the Library of Congress seems to think releasing public data about Congress is a risk to the public. The Library of Congress is in charge of [THOMAS.gov](http://thomas.loc.gov/), and its successor [Congress.gov](http://congress.gov). These sites publish some of the most fundamental information about Congress — the history and status of bills. Whether it's immigration law or SOPA, patent reform or Obamacare, the Library of Congress will tell you: *What is Congress working on? Who's working on it? When did that happen?* Except they won't let you download that information.

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Regulations.gov Continues to Improve, but Still Has Potential for Growth

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rdg_shotRecently, the EPA eRulemaking team released a new version of Regulations.gov, a website that tracks the various stages of the rulemaking processes of hundreds of federal agencies, and collects and publishes comments from the public about this rulemaking. We’ve written about Regulations.gov before, and continue to be impressed with the site’s progress in making the sometimes-daunting intricacies of federal regulations more approachable to members of the general public.

This release brings several new features that further this goal. Styling on many document pages has been significantly improved, making it much easier to read both rule and comment text. The presentation of metadata has also been made cleaner, so researchers can more easily find identifiers that help them connect a particular rule to related documents on other websites, such as FederalRegister.gov or RegInfo.gov. New panes have also been added to help users understand the public participation that has occurred so far in a given rulemaking, and to more easily recognize opportunities for further participation.

Of course, since last year’s release of the Regulations.gov API, Regulations.gov is more than just an informational website; it has also become a data provider that now facilitates a variety of third-party participation and analysis tools, as their Developers page now highlights. One such tool is Sunlight’s recently-released Docket Wrench, which uses Regulations.gov data to explore questions of corporate and public influence in the federal regulatory process. Docket Wrench evolved from two years’ worth of effort exploring the possibilities of analysis on federal regulatory comment data, and we believe the time we’ve spent building it has given us a unique perspective on the avenues of research this data makes available, as well as the opportunities for further growth and improvement in regulatory comment data going forward.

The team behind Regulations.gov deserves enormous credit for the progress they’ve made, but there remains much work to be done to give the public a complete, accessible and useful path into the federal regulatory process.

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Is the GPO a Digital Printer or a Digital Publisher?

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The tension between the Government Printing Office's traditional role as a printing operation and its future as a publisher of digital government information was apparent at a meeting of the House Appropriations Committee's Legislative Branch Subcommittee last week. In her testimony, acting Public Printer Davita Vance-Cooks stressed the GPO's efforts to transition to the digital age and acknowledged that the agency's role has evolved to that of a publishing operation. Unfortunately, the GPO has often failed to take steps that would allow it to fully embrace that role and ensure its future as an essential source of information.

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House Convenes Second Public Meeting on Legislative Bulk Data

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On January 30th, the House of Representatives held a public meeting on its efforts to release more legislative information to the public in ways that facilitate its reuse. This was the second meeting hosted by the Bulk Data Task Force where members of the public were included; it began privately meeting in September 2012. (Sunlight and others made a presentation at a meeting, in October, on providing bulk access to legislative data.) This public meeting, organized by the Clerk's office, is a welcome manifestation of the consensus of political leaders of both parties in the House that now is the time to push Congress' legislative information sharing technology into the 21st century. In other words, it's time to open up Congress. The meeting featured three presentations on ongoing initiatives, allowed for robust Q&A, and highlighted improvements expected to be rolled out of the next few months. In addition, the House recorded the presentations and has made the video available to the public. The ongoing initiatives are the release of bill text bulk data by GPO, the addition of committee information for docs.house.gov, and the release on floor summary bulk data. It's expected that these public meetings will continue at least as frequently as once per quarter, or more often when prompted by new releases of information. As part of the introductory remarks, the House's Deputy Clerk explained that a report had been generated by the Task Force at the end of the 112th Congress on bulk access to legislative data and was submitted to the House Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee. It's likely that the report's recommendations will become public as part of the committee's hearings on the FY 2014 Appropriations Bill, at which time the public should have an opportunity to comment.

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