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Re: Legislation on the web...

From: John Wonderlich <johnwonderlich@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, 7 Sep 2008 13:28:48 -0400
Message-ID: <b5bba8190809071028y7edf3591kbed51fc23575ba04@mail.gmail.com>
To: "Peter Krantz" <peter.krantz@gmail.com>
Cc: public-egov-ig@w3.org
I recently did a survey of some legislator driven efforts in the US
(inserted below).  On a broader level, several sites have grown here to add
value to the Library of Congress THOMAS <http://thomas.loc.gov/> page (the
official source of legislation), which has many notable shortfalls, such as
links that expire.

GovTrack <http://www.govtrack.us/> does the main work of scraping and
re-presenting, allowing other sites such as OpenCongress.org to focus on
usability and social features.  The source code for both is available.

One chapter of the Open House Project report was about THOMAS upgrades, and
is available here<http://www.theopenhouseproject.com/the-open-house-project-report/3-legislation-database/>

(blog post<http://www.theopenhouseproject.com/2008/08/11/public-legislative-participation/>below)

Public Legislative Participation
August 11th, 2008 by John Wonderlich · 2 Comments

The next list I'd like to tackle is *legislative participation*.

A number of innovative approaches have appeared in various legislative
bodies, inviting public participation in what is arguably the most public of
all processes: the creation of public policy.  While these projects vary in
scope and effect, they all have granted a new level of access and
authenticity to public deliberation, recognizing the public as a capable
partner in the process of legislating.

These are all legislative projects operating with official government
sponsorship.  While there is a great deal of valuable work done tracking
legislation and developing policy outside government, and also pioneering
work developing in Congress for communicating with constituents, I'm
focusing here on officially sponsored legislative participation.

   - The Open House Project
<http://www.theopenhouseproject.com/2008/08/>launched with Speaker
Pelosi's endorsement, developing a transparency reform
   agenda for Congress.
   - The Irish House of Parliament, the Oirechtas, held an involved
their broadcasting bill.  From their site:
      - "The consulters, comprising of members of the Joint Committee of
      Communications, Marine and Natural Resources and the Office of
the Houses of
      the Oireachtas e-Consultation Working Group, viewed the
e-Consultation pilot
      as a significant departure from previous practice as it involved
a dedicated
      website which allowed for the posting of submissions in a
structured manner
      as well as a discussion forum and it constituted an attempt to
      directly with the public on legislation and not just target traditional
   - Rep. Honda☼ posted
accepted public commentary on their proposed STEM Act.
   - Rep. Kuhl☼ launched a "Fix
   project, where citizens proposed legislative priorities.
   - Senator Lieberman☼ developed the first E-government
Act<http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/egov/g-4-act.html>of 2002 in
conjunction with a public
   Web site<http://web.archive.org/web/20010603050357rn_1/www.senate.gov/%7Egov_affairs/egov/>that
collected priorities and suggestions.  From the accompanying report

      On May 18, 2000, Senators Lieberman and Thompson launched an on-line
      `experiment in interactive legislation', a website that sought public
      comments on 44 topics related to possible measures that Congress
could take
      to advance the cause of e-government. Topics were organized into
      categories, such as `centralized leadership', `funding innovations', and
      `digital democracy: citizen access and participation,' and ranged from
      `centralized online portal' to `interoperability standards' to `G-Bay':
      enhanced online distribution of federal government surplus property.' For
      each of the topics, a short discussion described the status of current
      efforts and the `New Idea', or ideas, being offered for consideration.
      Visitors to the website could then submit their comments on the
subject, and
      read views that had been submitted by others. Nearly 1,000 comments were
      submitted, approximately one half of which were posted on the
website after
      being reviewed by Committee staff.13

      [Footnote] Comments were submitted by private citizens, academicians,
      federal employees, and even federal agencies. OMB also responded to the
      website by soliciting views from federal agencies; OMB officials then
      consolidated agencies' responses and presented them to the Committee as a
      single document. Opinions, additional information, and
alternative proposals
      submitted over the website proved helpful as Senator
Liebermanformulated his electronic government legislation.

      [Footnote] 13Comments were reviewed primarily for appropriateness and
      relevance; Committee staff did not favor any particular viewpoint in
      deciding which submissions to post. The website was intended to
educate the
      public about the potential of e-government, to solicit input and
      information on the many topics being considered for possible legislation,
      and to serve as both an experiment and an example of how the
Internet could
      be used to make government processes more accessible to the public.
       - Senator Dick Durbin☼ held public discussions on Open
   asking the question: "What Should We Include in our National Broadband
   - Politicopia is a public wiki, set up in conjunction with the Utah State
   Legislature's Rules Committee.
   - I'm looking for any other examples.  Others that sort of fit:
   - In a sense, the California initiative
process<http://www.cainitiative.org/>involves citizen participation,
although it bypasses more than it augments
      the legislative process.
      - The Peer to Patent Project <http://www.peertopatent.org/> is
      probably the best designed example of substantive public involvement,
      although it isn't legislative.
   - Any other suggestions?

On Sun, Sep 7, 2008 at 1:19 PM, Peter Krantz <peter.krantz@gmail.com> wrote:

> Dear egov-ig group members,
> Is there anyone else that is involved in a project that aims to put
> your national legislation on the web? We are currently half way
> through a project where we use a lot of W3C standards/technology (e.g.
> RDFa, OWL, RDFS, XHTML et al) to put swedish legislation online in a
> better shape than what exists today.
> I was thinking that projects of this type would be similar (from a
> technology perspective) in many countries and it would be interesting
> to share ideas.
> Kind regards,
> Peter Krantz
Received on Sunday, 7 September 2008 17:29:24 UTC

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