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RE: Legislation on the web...

From: Novak, Kevin <KevinNovak@aia.org>
Date: Wed, 10 Sep 2008 09:13:30 -0400
Message-ID: <7D3AB086C3D86347AE8225DE8190296B014F899A@AIA-NT1.aia.org>
To: <richard.murphy@gsa.gov>, <johnwonderlich@gmail.com>
Cc: "Peter Krantz" <peter.krantz@gmail.com>, <public-egov-ig@w3.org>
Peter and All,


Having managed Thomas for four years as one of my many duties at the Library of Congress I wanted to chime in.


Thomas is a very old system and presents many challenges with exposing, managing, and making accessible all of its information. The information and documents coming from the House side of Congress is coming in via XML. The Senate had not yet at the time I left LOC decided on an XML standard for the documents they produce and therefore doesn’t offer the accessibility or opportunity for different displays, etc. 


As John may remember (given we had share some information with the Sunlight Foundation and Congressman Honda’s office, we had a plan in place to begin major changes to the THOMAS infrastructure, how it communicates and manages data, and how the interface/presentation layer is demonstrated/made available. Of course the challenge was getting the funding to move forward with the plan. 


One item that most are not aware of is that the data in THOMAS originates at the Government Printing Office given how the Senate and House, per policy, are required to document and communicate their activities/bills and the like. All permanent identifiers to the original document reside there. I am surprised to hear that links are changing. Not that I can do anything directly about it now that I am not there anymore but am curious as to what links to documents are not permanent. 


Chris Testa who is the eGov IG subchair for web standards was the direct manager responsible for THOMAS and may be able to provide more insight.




Kevin Novak

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The American Institute of Architects

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From: public-egov-ig-request@w3.org [mailto:public-egov-ig-request@w3.org] On Behalf Of richard.murphy@gsa.gov
Sent: Tuesday, September 09, 2008 9:12 AM
To: johnwonderlich@gmail.com
Cc: Peter Krantz; public-egov-ig@w3.org
Subject: Re: Legislation on the web...


John & All:

I don't think this precisely fits your criteria, but you may be interested in a few OWL-DL ontologies my team maintains. 

1. The US-Privacy Act of 1974 here ...


2. The Federal Enterprise Architecture Reference Models


Best wishes,


office: 202-501-9199
cell: 202-557-1604


-----public-egov-ig-request@w3..org wrote: -----

To: "Peter Krantz" <peter.krantz@gmail.com>
From: "John Wonderlich" <johnwonderlich@gmail.com>
Sent by: public-egov-ig-request@w3.org
Date: 09/07/2008 01:28PM
cc: public-egov-ig@w3.org
Subject: Re: Legislation on the web...

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 "e-consultation" project <http://www.econsultation.ie/ec/econswip.nsf/%28webstartpage%29/5?opendocument>  on 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 communicate directly with the public on legislation and not just target traditional 'stakeholders'."

*	Rep. Honda☼ posted legislation <http://honda.house.gov/legislation/2008/stem.shtml>  and accepted public commentary on their proposed STEM Act.
*	Rep. Kuhl☼ launched a "Fix Washington <http://kuhl.house.gov/blog/index.php/2008/05/16/fix-washington-project/> " 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 language: 

o    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 Lieberman formulated 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 Left <http://www.openleft.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=318>  and Redstate <http://archive.redstate.com/stories/policy/what_should_we_include_in_our_national_broadband_strategy> , asking the question: "What Should We Include in our National Broadband Strategy?"
*	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



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Received on Wednesday, 10 September 2008 13:14:15 UTC

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