Open Gov

Rep wants Congress to 'track changes'

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Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) reintroduced a bill on Feb. 2 that would increase legislative transparency by tracking changes made to bills throughout the legislative process.

The Establishing Digital Interactive Transparency Act would task the Library of Congress, which operates Congress.gov, with making sure each version of a bill or resolution is posted online in a format that allow users to track alterations made to a bill or resolution over time within the same document.

Such inline comparisons are familiar to any software developer using GitHub , or anyone who uses the "Track Changes" feature in Microsoft Word. High-priced commercial legislative tracking services have long provided this visibility into legislative revisions, but Congress.gov publishes each iteration as a stand-alone document.

"Americans want accountability and transparency out of their lawmakers in Washington, and as lawmakers, we must work to give our constituents more access to the work they send us here to do," Stefanik said in a statement. "We live in an age of limitless information and technology that is never further than your pocket -- we should use these tools to provide the American people more open, transparent access to our work in Congress."

Stefanik originally introduced the EDIT Act in the 114th Congress, where it did not gain much legislative traction. The bipartisan bill's co-sponsors include Reps. Luke Messer (R-Ind.), David Young (R-Iowa), Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.). In the 114th Congress, President Donald Trump’s pick to head the Office of Management and Budget, Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), co-sponsored the EDIT Act.

About the Author

Chase Gunter is a staff writer covering civilian agencies, workforce issues, health IT, open data and innovation.

Prior to joining FCW, Gunter reported for the C-Ville Weekly in Charlottesville, Va., and served as a college sports beat writer for the South Boston (Va.) News and Record. He started at FCW as an editorial fellow before joining the team full-time as a reporter.

Gunter is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where his emphases were English, history and media studies.

Click here for previous articles by Gunter, or connect with him on Twitter: @WChaseGunter

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