Congressman Mike Honda (D, CA-15) is one of this project’s heroes in the House. In fact, I can’t recall any other congressman picking out a recommendation of the Open House Project and saying publicly that it’s a good idea, and referencing this project. In November, he took real action to further transparency in Congress by supporting the Committee on House Administration in asking the Library of Congress to look into making the legislative database behind THOMAS publicly available to other websites to reuse. (This is of course the recommendation that I most care about.)
In an article last week in the National Journal’s Technology Daily, Honda compared the benefits of an open legislative database to what the world has gotten out of wikis and open source software like Linux.
Then on Wednesday, Honda blogged (a perfect medium to express the sentiment) about the issue, citing the Open House project’s report. He captures the issue really well:
I have been working on an initiative to make Congressional legislative information more accessible to the public. I believe that public information should be provided in a format that takes advantage of the innovative technologies that are revolutionizing the Internet, sometimes known as Web 2.0.
Making CongressÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ legislative database open to the public Ã¢â‚¬Å“would enable independent Web sites to use information in new and creative ways, including educating the public about Congress and providing citizens with customized views of its proceedings,Ã¢â‚¬? according to a report from the Open House Project, an organization supporting this proposal.
Offering legislative information in a way that other websites can reuse could lead to revolutionary changes in the way our government functions, eventually allowing Congress to better tap into the knowledge and wisdom of the American people.