House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va, announced this week the House is making the U.S. Code available to download in an XML format, an effort that stems from an ongoing bipartisan push to increase government transparency.
In the past, the U.S. Code has been released online, but not always in an up-to-date, easily accessible format. The U.S. Code used to be available in various text files, which are difficult to read and don’t disclose the nature of the document. For example, sites like THOMAS.loc.gov or docs.house.gov provide the information on their sites, but not in a way that gives much opportunity for developers to work with it.
These new developments will give the public — and developers, in particular — much better access to the law. With the U.S. Code available in an XML format, developers can now leverage the data to create apps and programs.
“What the House leadership is doing is empowering the American people to better understand the law,” Daniel Schuman, policy analyst at the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told FedScoop. “Congress is publishing the law online, in real time, and in formats that Web developers can refashion into tools that empower everyone to understand the rules that govern our country.”
The entity responsible for moving this forward is the Office of Law Revision Council, whose main function is preparing and publishing the U.S. Code.
“Providing free and open access to the U.S. Code in XML is another win for open government,” Boehner and Cantor said in a joint statement. “And we want to thank the Office of Law Revision Counsel for all of their work to make this project a reality. Whether it’s our ‘read the bill’ reforms, streaming debates and committee hearings live online, or providing unprecedented access to legislative data, we’re keeping our pledge to make Congress more transparent and accountable to the people we serve.”