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Tag Archives: Open data
2016 Legislative Data and Transparency Conference (#LDTC16), Tue, Jun 21, 2016
Sign up now for this year’s Legislative Data and Transparency Conference (#LDTC16) held in Washington DC. In years past, they’ve streamed the proceedings, so definitely sign up for free if you’re interested in open legislative data, even if you’re not in the DC area!
The 2016 Legislative Data and Transparency Conference (#LDTC16), hosted by the Committee on House Administration, will take place on Tuesday, June 21, 2016, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Capitol Visitor Center Congressional Auditorium.
The #LDTC16 brings individuals from Legislative Branch agencies together with data users and transparency advocates to foster a conversation about the use of legislative data – addressing how agencies use technology well and how they can use it better in the future.
Tuesday, June 21, 2016 from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM (EDT) – Add to Calendar
Capitol Visitor Center Congressional Auditorium
via 2016 Legislative Data and Transparency Conference Tickets, Tue, Jun 21, 2016 at 9:00 AM | Eventbrite.
ProPublica launches tool to track Congressional members, encourages data download!
I’ve had a tab open to this ProPublica post “A New Way to Keep an Eye on Who Represents You in Congress” for a couple of weeks and just now getting around to sharing. Their new project called “Represent” is a great way to track on lawmakers, the bills they consider and the votes they take (and miss). Search for your legislators by address, ZIP code or name. A very handy tool indeed. But 2 things stand out especially about this new effort: 1) “Represent” not only collates data from a variety of government resources (see below) but they also point out to other sites that offer valuable features like individual lawmaker and bill pages on GovTrack and C-SPAN; and 2) They’re making available all the data that they use through their API. Their data sources include:
- The official Web site of the Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, for vote data
- The official Web site of the United States Senate, for vote data
- The Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, for member biographical information
- The United States Project, for social media account names in member lists and some member biographical information
- MIT Professor Charles Stewart’s collection of Congressional data, for some role information
- Congress.gov (The Library of Congress) and the Government Publishing Office, for bill data and nomination data
Check it out, bookmark it, and let your library patrons know about it!
Today ProPublica is launching a new interactive database that will help you keep track of the officials who represent you in Congress.
The project is the continuation of two projects I worked on at The New York Times — the first is the Inside Congress database, which we are taking over at ProPublica starting today.
But we also have big plans for it. While the original interactive database at The Times focused on bills and votes, our new project adds pages for each elected official, where you can find their latest votes, legislation they support and statistics about their voting. As we move forward we want to add much more data to help you understand how your elected officials represent you, the incentives that drive them and the issues they care about.
In that way, it is also a continuation of another project I worked on at the Times. In late 2008, The New York Times launched an app called Represent that connected city residents with the officials who represented them at the local, state and federal levels. It was an experiment in trying to make it easier to keep track of what elected officials were doing.
Because ProPublica is rekindling that effort, we’re calling the new project Represent.
The new Represent will help you track members, votes and bills in the House of Representatives and Senate. We’re also launching a Congress API, or Application Programming Interface, so developers can get data about what Congress is doing, too.
via A New Way to Keep an Eye on Who Represents You in Congress – ProPublica.
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.
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.
USGS releases plan to increase public access to scientific research
This is welcome news indeed! According to a press release yesterday, the US Geological Service (USGS) has just released its plan “Public Access to Results of Federally Funded Research at the U.S. Geological Survey: Scholarly Publications and Digital Data.” The USGS open access plan is in response to the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP)’s 2013 directive on open access to scientific research (unfortunately, the release of the USGS plan was too late to be listed on OSTP’s January 29, 2016 memo to the Senate and House Appropriations Committees which listed the 11 agencies — plus 5 Dept of Health and Human Services sub-agencies! — which have published open access plans.)
The plan stipulates that, beginning October 1, the USGS will require that any research it funds be released from the publisher and available free to the public no later than 12 months after initial publication. More importantly, USGS will also require that data used to support the findings be available free to the public when the associated study is published.
Specifically, this plan requires that an electronic copy of either the accepted manuscript or the final publication of record is available through the USGS Publications Warehouse. Digital data will be available in machine readable form from the USGS Science Data Catalog. The plan will require the inclusion of data management plans in all new research proposals and grants.
[HT Sabrina Pacifici @ beSpacific!]
Happy Sunshine Week! Congressional Data Coalition, open data, and public records
Happy Sunshine Week 2014! This is the week every year when open government activists and organizations, journalists, libraries, teachers and others interested in the public’s right to know promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information and [[FOIA]]. Check out the Sunshine Week events happening all this week!
As a precursor to Sunshine Week, the Congressional Data Coalition — public disclosure: FGI is a proud member of the coalition along with a bunch of fine organizations! — wrote a letter to the House of Representatives (PDF) calling for access to legislative data on bill status. As Josh Tauberer noted on his govtrack.us blog:
Congress publishes bill status on its website Congress.gov, but we are asking for it as raw data in bulk. Like on a spreadsheet. As we wrote in the letter:
To illustrate the difference between a website and data, we note that no legislative branch office or agency makes available a spreadsheet that lists every bill introduced in the 113th Congress. As you may have experienced in your own lives, a spreadsheet is an important tool when working with large amounts of information. Bulk data is like that.
Better data from Congress would help us provide more and better information on GovTrack about what is happening in Congress. The same is true of the other organizations who signed onto the letter. We can do a lot of good with that data And while the House did make many improvements to legislative transparency in the past several years, bill status data is extremely important and has not yet been addressed — even though it has been promised many times and we (and others) have been asking for it almost each year since 2007 (here’s our previous letter).
Also worth noting during Sunshine Week, the Sunlight Foundation, in a post today by Alisha Green entitled “Open data is the next iteration of public records”, makes the case for expanding the meaning of Sunshine laws which traditionally revolved around public records laws like [[FOIA]] at the federal level as well as open records and open meeting laws at the state and local levels to include open data in order to empower journalism and watchdog activities.
Open data is about the proactive, online release of government information. It takes traditional government approaches to public records forward by realizing the opportunities provided by technological advances. Open data demands the proactive release of information, the opposite of the reactive system of asking for public records. Technology makes the proactive approach possible: it is increasingly easy to post information online, where people are already looking for it.
Accessing information about government no longer has to mean going to a building and requesting permission to sift through paper documents. It doesn’t even have to mean writing a letter, filling out a complex form, or trying to figure out who to contact about public records or how to access records in the first place.
Much food for thought. Please join in the Sunshine Week festivities and help us spread the word.