Thursday, February 2, 2012

XML Standard from Bill to Code: Legislative Recommendation #4

The fourth of my structural recommendations for the U.S. House conference on legislative data and transparency (being held now), is to establish a consistent XML standard from publication of a bill to incorporation in the Code.

I'll keep this one short, since others, particularly Jim Harper of the Cato Institute, have described in great detail what should go into this standard and why it is important.

Here, I want to focus on the importance of having a single XML standard from the first drafting of a bill  to its codification.  Lest you think this is already being done, or is an easy task to accomplish, Alex Howard (@digifile) of O'Reilly media has posted a helpful flowchart [and here] of the various offices that are involved in the first part of the legislative process (until the bill becomes law and is published by the GPO).  The process of codification takes place after that.

A key element of any XML standard for legislation is that it be consistent throughout this process, as it passes from the jurisdiction of one office to another.