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Day 2: Openness: building commitment to openness, Mr. Robert Reeves, Deputy Clerk, House of Representatives, United States of America

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Day 2: Openness: building commitment to openness, Mr. Robert Reeves, Deputy Clerk, House of Representatives, United States of America

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It is perhaps too early to say that openness is ‘business as usual’ for parliaments, but it is certainly clear that making information accessible to people outside parliament is increasingly happening in digital, and specifically machine-readable, ways. The session will explore new and emerging forms of commitment to openness in legislation and parliamentary rules and practices.

It is perhaps too early to say that openness is ‘business as usual’ for parliaments, but it is certainly clear that making information accessible to people outside parliament is increasingly happening in digital, and specifically machine-readable, ways. The session will explore new and emerging forms of commitment to openness in legislation and parliamentary rules and practices.

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Day 2: Openness: building commitment to openness, Mr. Robert Reeves, Deputy Clerk, House of Representatives, United States of America

  1. 1. World e-Parliament Conference 2016 #eParliament 28-30 June 2016 // Chamber of Deputies of Chile // Valparaiso House of Representatives United States of America
  2. 2. Building Commitment to Openness Robert Reeves Deputy Clerk
  3. 3. Building Commitment to Openness Leadership Support  In 2011, the rules of the US House of Representatives for the 112th Congress called for greater transparency and accessibility to legislative documents.  The intention of the change was to place electronic distribution on par with traditional printing.
  4. 4. Building Commitment to Openness Leadership Support On June 1, 2012 House Report 112-511 that accompanied H.R. 5882 Legislative Branch Appropriations Act of 2013 directed the establishment of the House Bulk Data Task Force to examine increased dissemination of congressional information via bulk data download by non-governmental groups supporting openness and transparency in the legislative process.
  5. 5. Building Commitment to Openness Leadership Support  The Bulk Data Task Force is a partnership of representatives from the various Legislative Branch Agencies such as: – House of Representatives, Senate, – Library of Congress, Government Publishing Office, Government Accounting Office  that work in a cooperative manner to coordinate and accomplish openness and transparency goals.  Civil society organizations also participate.
  6. 6. Building Commitment to Openness Challenges  Culture – only tell them what you want them to know.  If we make one document available they will want everything.  Who is going to do the technical work? Who has the time? Who is going to pay for it?  Digital signatures.  Civil Society Groups.
  7. 7. Building Commitment to Openness Technical Standards  The House uses data standards as a part of its IT strategy.  The standard use of XML was implemented in 1997 by the US House and US Senate.
  8. 8. Building Commitment to Openness Technical Standards  Moving away from our own XML structure where possible.  U.S. Code now available in the XML schema called USLM (United States Legislative Markup). It was designed to be consistent with the XML Akoma Ntoso standard to the extent practicable.  In 2013, when USLM was designed, some structures of the U.S. Code were not handled by the Akoma Ntoso standard.
  9. 9. Building Commitment to Openness Technical Standards  Akoma Ntoso is an international open document standard for parliamentary, legislative and judicial documents currently going through the OASIS standardization process.  It was initially developed by the United Nations in the context of a program aimed at supporting Parliaments to adopt modern information technologies.
  10. 10. Building Commitment to Openness Projects • 2001 drafting bills and resolutions in XML • 2003 House votes in XML on the web • 2004 posting XML files on the web • 2011 House floor proceedings in XML • 2012 / 2013 docs.house.gov • 2013 Bills in XML in bulk (USLM) • 2013 US Code in XML • 2014 Bill Summaries in XML in bulk • 2014 Member data in XML • 2014 Data Challenges • 2015 Bill Status in bulk.
  11. 11. Building Commitment to Openness Projects (Cont’d)
  12. 12. Building Commitment to Openness Projects (Cont’d) While not an official record, video helps to tell the story of the House and its committees: 2010: House Proceedings Video – HouseLive.gov 2012: Committee Video – centralized strategy for webcasting committee video proceedings and provides consistent public access and archiving on Congress.gov.
  13. 13. Building Commitment to Openness Projects (Cont’d)
  14. 14. Building Commitment to Openness Projects (Cont’d)  Redesign of the THOMAS system by the Library of Congress.  Combining the functions of the internal Legislative Information System (LIS) with THOMAS the public system.  One system for everyone (Members, staff, and the public) at Congress.gov
  15. 15. Building Commitment to Openness Projects (Cont’d)
  16. 16. Building Commitment to Openness Projects (Cont’d) February 3, 2016- GPO launched the redesigned govinfo website in beta. govinfo functionality enhances the way stakeholders can interact with the site, strengthening GPO’s position as the central location for access to Federal government information. In addition to a redesigned, mobile-friendly website with a modern look and feel, govinfo offers key enhancements including: •improved navigation based on extensive user feedback and usability testing, •additional options for browsing content collections and for sharing pages on social media, •implementation of a new open-source search engine, and •enhanced functionality that links related documents together, making it easier for users to navigate quickly to relevant content; related documents connect information together within the various legislative and rulemaking processes without the need for users to do separate searches.
  17. 17. Building Commitment to Openness Projects (Cont’d)
  18. 18. Building Commitment to Openness Future Projects  Redesign of the Clerk’s website, focusing on House Chamber activities, using API’s to access and provide.  Public release of the House Telephone Directory.  “More documents in USLM” on Tuesday, 6/21 at the Legislative and Data Transparency Conference held at the US Capitol, Speaker Ryan announced the start of Phase I of a new project to convert documents not currently in USLM, to USLM.
  19. 19. Building Commitment to Openness Bulk Data Task Force Revisited  Four years later, we have had success with projects that have been completed.  We have established a relationship and dialogue with civil society / PMO groups.  We have altered the culture. Participants now come to meetings with project / transparency ideas and willingly collaborate with internal and external customers.
  20. 20. Building Commitment to Openness Thank you

Editor's Notes

  • Good morning, it’s a pleasure to be here to share our experiences with you at the 2016 World eParliament Conference at the Chamber of Deputies of Chile.
  • In 2011 House Leadership made a commitment to transparency and electronic documents
  • The Legislative Branch Subcommittee of the Appropriation Committee, established the House Bulk Data Task Force. The task force was asked to provide a report / recommendation after 6 months of investigation on supporting openness and transparency.
  • When the BDTF was started there were issue to overcome
  • Today we …
  • As many of you know …
  • Starting in 1997, the Legislative Branch began releasing documents in XML. There was early project activity then a pause between 2004 and 2011 and with the creation of the BDTF project activity picked up.
  • The House document repository serves two purposes: a vehicle for leadership to make documents and schedules available to members of the House and the public and to provide committees with a single location for committee hearing schedules and a standardized way to create and share documents with the public. The “Bills to be Considered” section has become an integrated part of the House legislative process.
  • The floor summary is integrated into the video of a legislative day
  • The Government Publishing Office …
  • The original six month report from the BDTF identified the fact that eventually we would have to go back and convert documents not in the new format and that’s what Phase I of this projects begins.
  • So if we go back four years later an look at the challenges we had when we started the BDTF, what have we learned? …
    Is transparency now business as usual? Maybe not entirely, there are things that the civil society / PMO groups still want us to do, but it is moving in the right direction.
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