H. R. 6289
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
September 29, 2010
Mr. Foster introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on House Administration
To direct the Librarian of Congress to make available to the public the bulk legislative summary and status data used to provide the information posted on the THOMAS website, and for other purposes.
This Act may be cited as the
Legislative Data Transparency and
Public Access Act of 2010.
Findings; Sense of Congress
Congress finds the following:
Since its launch in 1995, the Web site THOMAS has been an important source of free public information on Federal legislation.
In the years since the introduction of THOMAS, the Internet has evolved into what is commonly referred to as Web 2.0, which encourages the reuse of open source information though collaboration, interactivity, and data standardization.
Allowing the public to download the THOMAS Web site’s bulk legislative summary and status data will enable independent Web sites and outside watchdog groups to use the data in new and innovative ways that make the proceedings of Congress easier to follow and government more transparent.
In its 2007 report
on Congressional Information and the Internet, the Open House Project
recommended that Congress
make available to the public a well-supported
database of all bill status and summary information currently accessible
through the Library of Congress.
The Open House Project also noted that “Six states already publish the status of their state legislation in a structured data format: Connecticut, Illinois … Minnesota, Oregon, Texas and Virginia.”
Sense of Congress
It is the sense of Congress that the Library of Congress should work toward improving public access to all THOMAS data, including the text of legislation, in bulk.
Public availability of bulk legislative data
Public availability through Internet
As soon as practicable, the Librarian of Congress, in consultation with the Director of the Congressional Research Service, the Public Printer, the Clerk of the House of Representatives, and the Secretary of the Senate, shall make available to the public through the Internet the bulk legislative summary and status data used by the Librarian to provide the information the Librarian posts on the THOMAS Web site.
Method and manner of availability
In making available the bulk legislative data required under subsection (a), the Librarian shall ensure the following:
The data is available in a searchable, sortable, and downloadable manner.
The data available for downloading shall include status and summary information on legislation.
The data is provided in a structured, nonproprietary format.
The data is available free of charge.
The data is updated continuously in a timely manner.
The database involved includes the following supporting information:
A roster showing each Member of Congress (including each Delegate and Resident Commissioner to the Congress), the Member’s committee assignments, and the ZIP Codes included in each Member’s congressional district.
Such other supporting information as the Librarian considers appropriate.
The data is provided in a manner consistent with the standards developed and published under subsection (c).
Development of Standards
Prior to making available the bulk legislative data described in subsection (a), the Librarian of Congress, in consultation with the individuals described in such subsection, shall develop and publish standards for the downloading and public availability of the data, and shall update such standards at such frequency as the Librarian considers appropriate.
Advisory Committee on THOMAS
There is hereby
established in the Library of Congress the Advisory Committee on THOMAS
(hereafter in this section referred to as the
The Advisory Committee shall consist of 16 members appointed as follows:
Seven individuals appointed by the Librarian of Congress who have expertise in disciplines such as legislative access, Internet technology, and open government, and who shall include representatives of academia, the nonprofit sector, the for-profit sector, and users of the THOMAS Web site.
Four individuals appointed by the Librarian of Congress who are employees of the Federal government with expertise in access to government information and Internet technology.
The Law Librarian of Congress (or the Law Librarian’s designee).
The Clerk of the House of Representatives (or the Clerk’s designee).
The Secretary of the Senate (or the Secretary’s designee).
The Public Printer (or the Public Printer’s designee).
The Director of the Congressional Research Service (or the Director’s designee).
Deadline for appointments
The Librarian of Congress shall appoint the members described in subparagraphs (A) and (B) of paragraph (1) not later than 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act.
Term of service; vacancies
Members of the Advisory Committee shall serve for a term of 3 years, and may be appointed to additional terms. Any vacancy in the Advisory Committee shall be filled in the manner in which the original appointment was made.
Members of the Advisory Committee shall serve without pay, but shall receive travel expenses, including per diem in lieu of subsistence, in accordance with applicable provisions under subchapter I of chapter 57 of title 5, United States Code. Members of the Advisory Committee who are full-time officers or employees of the United States may not receive additional pay, allowances, or benefits by reason of their service on the Commission.
Support from Librarian of Congress
The Librarian of Congress shall provide the Advisory Board with the administrative, professional, and technical support required by the Advisory Board to carry out its responsibilities under this section.
The Advisory Committee shall meet on a regular basis at the call of a majority of its members. Meetings shall be open to the public.
The Advisory Committee shall—
review progress toward making all of the data of the THOMAS Web site available in bulk; and
provide general advice to the Librarian of Congress on improving digital access and THOMAS services.
Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, and annually thereafter, the Advisory Committee shall submit a report on its activities to the Committee on House Administration of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Rules and Administration of the Senate, and shall include in the report such recommendations as the Advisory Committee considers appropriate.