On the morning of February 2, 2012 the Committee on House Administration of the 112th Congress held what it calls a Legislative Data and Transparency Conference. This is an all-day, in-person conference on Capitol Hill at which beltway lobbyists and nonprofits were undoubtedly in attendance, but one of the challenges of making congressional data truly open is that the other 309,998,000 Americans aren’t able to take a day off and trek to Washington in order think about how they can:
- Read up-to-date information on the legislative activity of the U.S. Congress
- Download consistently formatted congressional data
- Remix that congressional data, combining it with other publicly-available information
- Analyze the multi-variate data for patterns and
- Share that information with other members of the public
In short, maximally transparent, open legislative data can’t just be open and transparent to the consultants, the lobbyists and non-profit administrators who take the Metro in Monday-Friday. It should be open to the rest of Americans who aren’t able to show up for a Capitol Hill conference at the drop of a hat.
To the considerable credit of the Committee on House Administration, it has arranged for a live web feed of its committee proceedings. That’s handy for people who had the day free anyway. But is the live feed saved, though? Check that feed page, and the web page describing the 9 AM – 6 PM conference, for evidence of a working, stable web feed bringing openness and transparency to the whole country, not just the already-connected.