House Committee Considers Indefinitely Delaying Public Bulk Access to U.S. Federal Legislative Data

[NOTE, 4 June 2012: Daniel Schuman has just posted an update on this issue: #FreeTHOMAS.]

[NOTE, 1 June 2012: Daniel Schuman has just posted an update on this issue: Bulk Access Developments after the H. Approps Hearing.]

A draft U.S. congressional committee print released today calls for indefinitely delaying a decision whether to provide public access to U.S. federal legislative data in bulk XML.

In their new post entitled Appropriators May Undercut Legislative Transparency, Daniel Schuman and Eric Mill of the Sunlight Foundation describe the draft print and outline the concerns it raises respecting public access to legislative data.

A large number of posts about this issue are linked from the Open Congress page, THOMAS bulk data access. [HT Daniel Schuman]

Many citizens’ comments about the issue are posted here at POPVOX (scroll down). HT Joshua Tauberer.

David Moore comments on the print in his new post entitled Email Congress to Oppose H.R. 5882 and #FreeTHOMAS.

Dr. Joshua Tauberer comments on the print in his new post entitled Rep. Crenshaw thinks American public can’t be trusted with overseeing Congress.

Tom Bruce comments on the print in his new post entitled Can we stop talking about accountability for a minute? Please?

Waldo Jaquith also comments on the draft print in his new post entitled Congress Declines to Let People Download Copies of Bills.

David Moore of Open Congress has added comments about the draft print to his recent post entitled Congress Refuses to #FreeTHOMAS.

Sarah Lai Stirland comments on the draft print in her TechPresident post entitled Transparency Advocates Frustrated With House Appropriators’ Plan To Make A Plan.

Nick Judd reports on the draft print in his TechPresident post entitled For Transparency Advocates, the Honeymoon with House Republicans May Be Over.

The full U.S. House Appropriations Committee is scheduled to vote on the draft print tomorrow, 31 May 2012. If the committee votes to approve the draft print in its current form, the decision whether to provide bulk XML access to the data underlying the THOMAS congressional information system will be indefinitely delayed, while a task force addresses the committee’s concerns.

Those concerns mostly involve what are described as the “unresolved” “challenge of authenticating downloads of bulk data legislative data files in XML,” and costs and other issues that purportedly may arise from the alteration of legislative data by downstream users.

Advocates of greater public access to government information may wish to contact Representative Ander Crenshaw (202-225-2501), author of the draft print, to express their views respecting whether U.S. federal legislative data ought to be available to the public in bulk XML, as U.S. federal regulatory data already is (see Federal Register in bulk XML here, and Code of Federal Regulations in bulk XML here), and respecting the composition, charge, schedule, transparency, and public access to the deliverables of the proposed task force on public access to legislative data in bulk XML. Consider using these talking points written by Daniel Schuman.

For more information, please see Daniel Schuman and Eric Mill’s post, Waldo Jaquith’s post, and David Moore’s post.

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5 Responses to House Committee Considers Indefinitely Delaying Public Bulk Access to U.S. Federal Legislative Data

  1. legalinformatics says:

    May 30, 2012, 5:30 p.m. Eastern: Just spoke with Rep. @AnderCrenshaw ‘s staff to request public bulk access to legislative data & changes to task force http://bit.ly/KxU8Y9

  2. legalinformatics says:

    RT @OpenCongress Congress Refuses to #FreeTHOMAS: http://goo.gl/BySw3. Call Rep. @AnderCrenshaw now to demand #opendata: 202-225-2501. #opengov

  3. legalinformatics says:

    RT @danielschuman Calling about ‪#THOMAS‬ bulk access? Here’s some talking points 4 tomorrow’s hearing http://bit.ly/Kyc0lY ‪#opengov‬ ‪#opendata‬

  4. legalinformatics says:

    .@JoshData & @danielschuman quoted in @nclarkjudd ‘s update on House legislative data access controversy http://bit.ly/N3RzyB HT @ppolitics

  5. legalinformatics says:

    Update from @danielschuman : Bulk Access Developments after the H. Approps Hearing http://bit.ly/JEVXD7

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