Earlier today, Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Cantor and the Government Printing Office announced an improvement in how legislation is made publicly available. Starting in the 113th Congress, GPO will make all bills available for bulk download in XML format. While this doesn't change much from a technological perspective, it does mark a significant change from a policy perspective.Continue reading
Keeping Authentication Simple
The point of publishing bulk data is so it can be reused as widely as possible. This is particularly true for government data, which belongs to the public.
Government agencies can sometimes also be concerned with ensuring the authenticity of their legal information - especially when the data might be seen as an official source. It breaks down into two major concerns: integrity (ensuring the text is accurate), and origin (proving it's official). A lot of people are used to the "wax seal" model of authenticity - the experience of opening a PDF and seeing that the document is signed and official. This model quickly breaks down for distributing bulk data.
The goals of ease of reuse and authentication are frequently presented as being in tension, but that tension is just as frequently overstated. There are straightforward approaches to guaranteeing authenticity of bulk data that do not encumber reuse.Continue reading
Learning how to navigate Congress.gov
The new and much improved location for Congressional information, beta.congress.gov, has plenty of resources to offer users. Now the Library of Congress (LOC) is offering webinars and in-person training to help users navigate the expanding website. We applaud LOC for providing a variety of training opportunities for those seeking a better understanding of the information available.Continue reading
Looking Forward to the THOMAS Beta Website
In the near future, Congress is expected to release a major upgrade to its aging legislative information website THOMAS. The... View ArticleContinue reading
How to #FreeTHOMAS: A report on implementing bulk access
Today we are pleased to release a report on improving public access to legislative information. The report (PDF, DOC, ODT) is the result of a collaborative effort that was prompted by the House Leadership's recent statement endorsing bulk access and the questions raised in a committee report accompanying the House Legislative Branch Appropriations Bill.Continue reading
Media Spotlight on Congress Stalling Open Access to Legislation
The media's magnifying glass is concentrating attention on actions by the House Appropriations Committee that could stall progress on the public's access to legislative information.Continue reading
Does information about legislation belong to Congress or to the American people? This basic question is at the heart of... View ArticleContinue reading
Full Committee Markup on Leg Approps Set for Thursday
The House Appropriations Committee just announced it will hold a full committee markup this Thursday (May 31) on the Legislative... View ArticleContinue reading
STOCK Act to be Signed Today
A few of us at Sunlight are excited to be going to the bill signing ceremony for the STOCK Act... View ArticleContinue reading
Government: Do You Really Need An API?
As the term "API" has become more widely recognized through its ubiquity in social media and other web services, its coolness factor has grown considerably, and has become something frequently called for from government.
But does government really need to rush around and make APIs for all of their stuff? Peter Krantz argues that offering direct downloads to bulk data is a much more scalable, simple, and sane solution in most cases.
You should go read his article, rather than just our summary. But specifically...Continue reading
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