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Will GPO charge for a Bill Summary Database?

Rob Pierson met yesterday with the folks in charge of Thomas at the Library of Congress. Rob is Vice-President of Technology at the Young Professionals in Foreign Policy and reported on his meeting to the Open House Project Group.

Rob’s message has several things of interest to government information professionals including:

  • The relationship betweeen the CRS Legislative Information System (LIS) and Thomas.
  • The rationale for having a less featured search system for Thomas (they are trying to appeal to a different audience).
  • Thomas and LIS are both working on upgrading their systems and the Thomas folks are working extensively with the LIS folks and are incorporating elements of LIS into Thomas.
  • Their expectation that the new XML bill summary database would probably be available through GPO and might not be freely available to the public. “The XML version of bills and roll call votes is currently available to the public for free, and it would be a very problematic break with that precedent if GPO began selling legislative XML data. This isn’t yet set in stone, however.”

Rob also attached a document, which provides a background into what LIS is planning for the future, as well as some history of the group. You can download it from the URL above and i’ve also put a copy for your convenience here. (THE LEGISLATIVE INFORMATION SYSTEM: OBJECTIVES AND PLANS FOR THE RETRIEVAL SYSTEM IN THE YEAR 2007, Prepared by the Congressional Research Service and the Office of Information Technology Services Library of Congress, January 2007.)

I would be very interested to hear if anyone knows if GPO plans to sell the XML data or make it available without charge or if they have not decided and are considering charging.

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