House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) praised the Government Printing Office (GPO) and the House Clerk for their recently announced efforts to modernize public access to House information and calling on other legislative branch entities to follow suit. GPO today announced that House bills for the 113th Congress are now available for bulk download in XML. The Office of the House Clerk announced earlier this week that House Floor summaries are also now available for bulk download in XML.
"The actions this week by the GPO and the House Clerk are significant steps towards making the legislative branch more open and transparent," said Whip Hoyer. "Congress has a duty to share information about legislation being developed and deliberated, and this new effort will allow the public to follow and engage with Congress in innovative new ways. I commend GPO and the House Clerk for their actions, and hope that other legislative branch entities like the Library of Congress and the Senate will follow suit by including additional legislative information that is already publicly available, yet not accessible, on Thomas.gov.
Thomas.gov provides extensive information about all bills introduced in Congress, but that data is not provided to the public in a structured, bulk format. Doing so would allow academics, developers, and civic activists to build new apps and programs to use legislative information in inventive new ways. The legislative branch is not alone in such efforts--the Obama Administration and many state and local governments are also making open government data a priority, enabling innovative websites and mobile apps.
"The actions this week are a result of the work done by the Legislative Branch Bulk Data Task Force that was created in a bipartisan effort during last year's Legislative Branch Appropriations debate," Hoyer continued. "I commend Rep. Mike Honda and Rep. Mike Quigley for their leadership in this area. And I commend Speaker Boehner and Leader Cantor for including my staff on the bipartisan task force. I hope these two actions are the first of many accomplishments for the task force."