Each year ten million individuals use our free website www.GovTrack.us to analysis and monitor legislation in the U.S. Congress. Our customers embody journalists, legislative affairs professionals, legislative staff on the Hill, advocates, teachers, college students, and of course member of most people. This testimony is submitted on their behalf.
I might like to begin by commending the subcommittee for its assist of vital applications in the last a number of years which have allowed us to deliver correct and well timed info to our customers:
- The House Bulk Data Taskforce’s legislative bulk information program, which went stay in 2016 and was a joint effort of the federal government Publishing Office, the Library of Congress, the Clerk of the House, and the Senate, has allowed us to disseminate the most correct info yet concerning the status of pending legislation.
- Several tasks of the House Committee on House Administration together with Docs.house.gov, publishing the United States Code in XML (with the Law Revision Counsel) [In my personal capability I used to be a sub-contractor on this venture.], enhancing the bill drafting course of utilizing XML (with the Office of Legislative Counsel), and the yearly Legislative Data and Transparency convention.
- Improvements to the House Clerk’s website, together with new member information.
- The launch of Congress.gov by the Library of Congress, and its agile-lead enhancements since its launch, which is an example for the whole legislative department in how best to develop modern know-how.
Digitization and publication of core historic paperwork by the federal government Publishing Office and Library of Congress, including the Congressional Record, Statutes at Large, and Constitution Annotated (though extra work is required right here).
Public access to legislative data remains an vital want, and the subcommittee’s help for applications that provide such entry ensures that correct info reaches the American public — the tens of hundreds of thousands of Americans who include not solely our users but also Americans who study their authorities by reading newspapers and magazines which depend on our service and Congress.gov for their research.
I additionally commend the employees at the House offices and legislative branch businesses named above who have completed remarkable work in producing correct, durable, and well timed data within the constraints that an establishment like the House of Representatives requires.
To continue the subcommittee’s commitment to public access to legislative information, I respectfully recommend the next:
- Create a public advisory committee on legislative transparency for stakeholders to have interaction systematically on this challenge, including however not restricted to access to data.
- Make the bulk Data Taskforce everlasting and fund the participation of the offices and businesses that are members of the taskforce.
- Support congressional publication of different vital information in a structured knowledge format, including amendments, House committee votes, the Biographical Directory (Bioguide), and committee witness paperwork.
- Continue to assist efforts to modernize the House’s expertise techniques particularly with respect to the work of committees and efforts to attach constituents to their representatives. Cultivate the legislative branch’s in-home expertise expertise as other parts of the government are doing.
Increase House employees levels above their current historic lows so the House has sufficient capacity for coverage evaluation and oversight and direct the Congressional Research Service to report on on how staffing ranges impression the House’s capacity to function, and make that report public.
– Systematically release the non-confidential Congressional Research Service experiences to most people. Years of experience has demonstrated that public access to those studies enhances the general public debate without creating a commensurate burden.