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Free Government Information (FGI) is a place for initiating dialogue and building consensus among the various players (libraries, government agencies, non-profit organizations, researchers, journalists, etc.) who have a stake in the preservation of and perpetual free access to government information. FGI promotes free government information through collaboration, education, advocacy and research.

Department of Commerce Data Usability Project

This certainly seems to be the year when open government data really flowers. From NASA to Census to the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) — not to mention data.gov! — across the Federal government, agencies are setting up developer sites with open APIs so that the public can reuse agency data and information. Just search “API site:*.gov” and you’ll find a bunch of agency open data sites.

Now we can add the Department of Commerce, which has recently released a site called the Commerce Data Usability Project. The site has some great usability tutorials (and hopefully will have more soon!) to help people get started with Dept of Commerce data and tools like R, Python, and Javascript. Check it out.

With tens of thousands of datasets ranging from satellite imagery to material standards to demographic surveys, the U.S. Department of Commerce has long been in the business of Open Data. Through the Commerce Data Usability Project, go on a series of guided tours through the Commerce data lake and learn how you can leverage this free and open data to unlock the possible.

Legislative Data now available in bulk. Thanks GPO and Library of Congress!

Here’s some big news. According to Daniel Schuman at the Congressional Data Coalition, today the Government Publishing Office (GPO) and the Library of Congress opened up the bulk data tap for bills, bill summaries, and bill statuses! See below for Daniel’s description of the new service and its implications.

Today the Government Publishing Office and Library of Congress completed a full revolution in public access to legislative information. Information about legislative actions in congress -– the bills, summaries of the bills, and their status –- is now available online, in bulk, in a structured data format. As I wrote in December, this has great significance:

  • It marks the publication of essential legislative information in a format that supports unlimited public reuse, analysis, and republication. It is now possible to see much of a bill’s life cycle.
  • It illustrates the positive relationship that has grown between Congress and the public on access to legislative information, where there is growing open dialog and conversation about how to best meet our collective needs.
  • It is an example of how different components within the legislative branch are engaging with one another on a range of data-related issues, sometimes for the first time ever, under the aegis of the Bulk Data Task Force.
  • It means the Library of Congress and GPO will no longer be tied to the antiquated THOMAS website and can focus on more rapid technological advancement. (At least for data from the 113th and 114th Congresses).
  • It shows how a diverse community of outside organizations and interests came together and built a community to work with Congress for the common good.

Announcement: Bulk Download Access to Bill Status Information

Press Release:

GPO And Library Of Congress Make Senate And House Bill Status Information Available For Bulk Download

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 24, 2016 No. 16-04


WASHINGTON — The U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) has partnered with the Library of Congress (LOC) to make bill status information in XML format available through GPO’s Bulk Data repository on govinfo (www.govinfo.gov) for the 113th and 114th Congresses. Bill status information, which is created by LOC and Congress, describes the activities and status steps for each legislative measure. This project commenced at the direction of the House Appropriations Committee, and is in support of the Legislative Branch Bulk Data Task Force.


Making Government information available in XML permits data to be reused and repurposed not only for print output but for conversion into ebooks, mobile web applications, and other forms of content delivery, including data mashups and other analytical tools by third party providers, which contributes to openness and transparency in Government. In addition to the files made available through the govinfo Bulk Data Repository, GPO ensures the authenticity of all information provided on govinfo by making available digitally signed copies in PDF format, which is the official, authentic version that matches the printed document.

“GPO is once again honored to partner with the Library in supporting a congressional initiative that furthers openness and transparency in Government,” said GPO Director Davita Vance-Cooks.

“The Library of Congress is working closely and continually with GPO, the House and the Senate to improve access to timely, authoritative, free legislative information using modernized platforms,” said David Mao, Acting Librarian of Congress. “These efforts have resulted in Congress.gov and govinfo. We are pleased to have the opportunity to work closely with Congress and GPO to make legislative information that is aggregated and enhanced for Congress.gov also available in this new format and applaud GPO’s work on its govinfo platform.”

PDF copy of complete press release:

Bill Statuses in XML format

GPO will beging making bill status information available in bulk through FDsys starting in early 2016. For sample files and user guide see github.com/usgpo/bill-status.


At the direction of the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee, in support of the Legislative Branch Bulk Data Task Force, the Government Publishing (GPO), the Library of Congress (LOC), the Clerk of the House, and the Secretary of the Senate are planning to make Bill Statuses in XML format available through the GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys) Bulk Data repository starting with the 113th Congress. At launch in early 2016, the FDsys Bulk Data repository for Bill Status information will be available at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/bulkdata/BILLSTATUS.

GPO announces availability of CFR for bulk download in XML

GPO announced today that the digital version of the Code of Federal Regulations (eCFR) is now available for bulk download in XML format. A 58 page User Guide (Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (e-CFR) XML User Guide (ECFR XML User Guide). U.S. Government Publishing Office, Federal Digital System, 8/24/2015), is available in PDF format.

Press Release:

No. 15-16
GPO & National Archives Make eCFR Available For Bulk Download In XML Format

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) partners with the National Archives’ Office of the Federal Register (OFR) to make the electronic Code of Federal Regulations (eCFR) available in XML format for bulk data download from GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys). OFR provides eCFR files to GPO and then GPO converts files into XML. The eCFR bulk data will allow for a “one-click” download of the current XML file for each of the titles in the eCFR. XML permits data to be reused and repurposed for mobile web applications, data mashups, and other analytical tools by third party providers, which contributes to openness and transparency in Government.

The eCFR is a currently updated version of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). The eCFR is an editorial compilation of CFR material and Federal Register amendments produced by OFR and GPO. OFR updates the material in the eCFR on a regular basis and can be as frequent as every day.

eCFR: http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/ECFR?page=browse

GPO’s bulk data repository: www.gpo.gov/fdsys/bulkdata