Thursday, February 2, 2012

Roundup: House Legislative Data and Transparency

Many kudos to those who put together today's House Legislative Data & Transparency conference. I was impressed with the high-level and high-quality line-up of speakers and participants, and very grateful to the Committee on House Administration, which provided a livestreaming feed, and to all the Tweeters in the room and around the country who helped fill in the blanks (search: #ldtc).

The Conference provided a clear picture of what the current state of play is with legislative data, and some very clear recommendations from the audience and some participants about where things should move. What is needed now, is a commitment to make those improvements.

John Wonderlich (also at Sunlight) expressed <understatement>disappointment</understatement> in the government's lack of commitment, after many years of requests, to providing bulk data.  I agree, though there are some bright spots: I have been pleased with the bulk data being provided by the LRC for the U.S. Code Prelim, and the regular url scheme at thomas.gov, which is not far off from providing bulk data.

One of the most underappreciated statements of the day came from the Law Revision Counsel.  On a question, I believe, related to authentication, the LRC highlighted the importance of positive law codification.  

I don't think most people realize: there is no single, authoritative publication of Federal statutory law.  The printed version of the U.S. Code is six years out of date. The online USC Prelim is up to date, for now. But neither one is the current law of the United States.

The Conference opened with a strong showing of bipartisanship.  That is exactly what is needed to move codification legislation forward.