Congress

Congress gets a new Internet home

Illustration of the legislative process from beta.congress.gov

The new Congress.gov will include primers on the legislative process and other background information, in addition to the bill-tracking tools found on Congress.gov.

Starting Nov. 19, Congress will be master of its domain.

Legislative information will be migrating from Thomas, housed in the Library of Congress website, to Congress.gov, a dedicated system that contains text of legislation, member information, committee reports, a searchable online version of the Congressional Record and more.

An early version of the new site is completing testing at beta.Congress.gov. The site is a joint effort of the House of Representatives, the Senate, the Library of Congress, and the Government Printing Office.

Thomas launched in 1995, but despite several overhauls its infrastructure can no longer support the volume and speeds demanded by heavy users. The new site will be able to handle a heavier load and will also be optimized for mobile users. Many of the improvements will be under the hood, including enhanced search and support for video.

Users of Congress.gov will still be able to track legislation as it moves, navigate to Congressional Budget Office scoring for financial impact, read committee reports on legislative intent and implementation, and link to videos of relevant committee hearings. The committee pages list introduced bills with sponsor information, but don’t as yet have information on members and leadership, and link only to the majority committee websites. Pages on individual lawmakers include a listing of legislation sponsored by that member as well as a link to the official member website.

Congress.gov will launch with access to legislating dating back to the 103rd Congress (1993-1994), and complete member profiles going back to 1973. The site also includes a generalized introduction to the legislative process, with more content being added as users demand and as archival material is digitized.

When the site launches on Nov. 19, visitors to Thomas will be automatically redirected to Congress.gov, and followers of Twitter account @Thomasdotgov will receive updates from @Congressdotgov. Thomas will remain accessible via the Congress.gov page until it is put out of commission late next year.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy, health IT and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mr. Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian started his career as an arts reporter and critic, and has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, Architect magazine, and other publications. He was an editorial assistant and staff writer at the now-defunct New York Press and arts editor at the About.com online network in the 1990s, and was a weekly contributor of music and film reviews to the Washington Times from 2007 to 2014.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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Reader comments

Mon, Nov 18, 2013

If by that question you mean: Did contractors do this work instead of Feds? The answer is yes. Proof that you don't always get what you pay for.

Fri, Nov 15, 2013

This Congressional site is as bad as that Obamanation healthcare.gov. Did they use the same scum-of-the earth liberal contractors to screw up both sites at the same time?

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