House website to provide XML-formatted legislation

Starting Jan. 1, lawmakers in the House of Representatives will be able to publish all House bills, amendments and resolutions in XML (Extensible Markup Language) format on a single website, according to a recent resolution.

On Dec. 16, the House Administration Committee adopted the “Standards for the Electronic Posting of House and Committee Documents and Data” resolution calling for implementation of the website.

According to the resolution, the Clerk of the House is instructed to maintain a single website for the public to access the information.

Lawmakers and committees are encouraged to utilize the XML formats “whenever possible,” but are not required to do so. Searchable Adobe Portable Document File formats also are acceptable.

Daniel Schuman, policy counsel for the Sunlight Foundation transparency group, referred to the XML formatting of legislative documents is “a tremendous step into the 21st century,” he wrote in a Dec. 16 blog entry. He added that for House committees to use XML formatting is likely to be required in the near future.

There is a lot more to do, but creation of the website is “a major stride” toward implementing GOP House leaders’ pledges to make legislative information available in machine-readable formats, Schuman added. He suggested that the Senate, Library of Congress and Government Printing Office should follow the House’s example.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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