The Open House Project from The Sunlight Foundation

Entries from February 2007

Citizen Journalists in the Halls of Congress

February 28th, 2007 · No Comments

As a coordinator of the Open House Project, I’m responsible for a major component: getting YOU access to Congress.
As a former Capitol Hill reporter for Human Events and Cybercast News Service before that, I’m quite familiar with the credentialing process for journalists. I also know about the difficulties facing online journalists and bloggers. Liberal blogger/journalist [...]

Tags: OpenHouse

Committees: The most important not-understood aspect of Congress

February 28th, 2007 · No Comments

When I first started working on what would become GovTrack six years ago, as a college sophomore who had up to that point zero interest in politics, I had no idea what congressional committees were all about. I don’t think they ever came up in any civics-related classes through High School. Really, we’re all lead [...]

Tags: Congress · OpenHouse

Who Owns What C-Span Airs?

February 27th, 2007 · 2 Comments

The Speaker of House and the Republican Study Group have been going back and forth over Pelosi’s use of a few C-Span video clips. Muddy, muddy situation. But what’s clear is that nobody on Capitol Hill understands who “owns” what we see on C-Span.
It’s confusing, no doubt. To start, proceedings on the House and Senate [...]

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States are leading the way with downloadable legislative databases

February 22nd, 2007 · 4 Comments

I’ve blogged here before (1, 2) about how publishing raw, structured data that can be processed by computers can have unpredictable benefits, and I feel strongly that Congress should provide a raw database download of the status of all legislation. (They have the database already; it’s what powers THOMAS.) I didn’t realize, though, that [...]

Tags: OpenHouse · Structured Data

Make CRS Reports Available to All

February 21st, 2007 · 1 Comment

American taxpayers spend over $100 million a year to fund the Congressional Research Service (CRS), which generates detailed reports relevant to current political events for lawmakers. But while the reports are non-classified, and play a critical role in our political process, neither Congress nor the CRS makes them freely available to the public.
To fill [...]

Tags: OpenHouse

Discussion Update

February 21st, 2007 · No Comments

I’ll be collecting highlights of the discussion on our google group and posting them here. Several threads are thriving already, and we’re looking to deepen the conversation with informed commentary and suggestions.
In the last week or so…
Matt Stoller announced the addition of Robert Bluey of the Heritage Foundation as fellow coordinator of the Open [...]

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Whose Responsibility Is It?

February 18th, 2007 · No Comments

Whose responsibility is it to publish information about the government?
The media?
While the profit motive and journalism standards both shape our traditional TV and press media’s coverage of Congress, they don’t guarantee the comprehensive coverage that is necessary for a democracy powered by knowledge. In fact, it could even be argued that the selectively administered [...]

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Bill Versioning: Unintended consequences of data openness

February 14th, 2007 · 2 Comments

After a bill is introduced in Congress, we know it may change in a whole host of ways before it is passed finally. But if you’ve read the bill at one point in time and want to know how it’s changed since you last read it, until recently your only hope was to scan through [...]

Tags: Congress · OpenHouse

Themes for Legislative Information Publication

February 12th, 2007 · No Comments

Most of our recommendations will likely be organized in reference to specific access points: the site, office, or agency publicizing the information. We can sharpen our advice, however, by taking into account some general guidelines for effective data sharing.
These ideas come from numerous conversations and posts. By collecting them into one post, I’m [...]

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Preserving Historical House Content

February 9th, 2007 · 1 Comment

David All has a really compelling suggestion – the House or the Library of Congress should be preserving the content that its members and former members put on the web.
Former Speaker Denny Hastert (R-IL) is our nation’s longest serving Speaker. His legacy will be preserved in the history books (and wiki).But he was also the [...]

Tags: OpenHouse