Bill seeks

Bill seeks 'track changes' feature for legislation

A bill to increase legislative transparency has been reintroduced by  Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.).  

The Establishing Digital Interactive Transparency Act would require each version of a bill or resolution is posted online to be in a format that allows users to track alterations made over time.

Such inline comparisons are familiar to anyone who has used the "Track Changes" feature in Microsoft Word. High-priced commercial legislative tracking services have long provided this visibility into legislative revisions, but Congress.gov, which is operated by the Library of Congress, publishes each iteration as a stand-alone document.

"We live in an age of limitless information and technology that is never further than your pocket -- we should use these tools to provide the American people more open, transparent access to our work in Congress," Stefanik said in a statement.

The EDIT Act has been endorsed by open government advocates. "The EDIT Act is a crucial component to achieving a transparent and complete view of the legislative process," said Hudson Hollister, executive director of the Data Coalition.  "Once open data formats are adopted for bills and other legislative materials, citizens will be able to electronically track the consequences of every congressional proposal.”

Stefanik originally introduced the EDIT Act in the 114th Congress, where it did not gain much legislative traction.

This article first appeared on FCW, a sister site to GCN.

About the Author

Chase Gunter is a staff writer covering civilian agencies, workforce issues, health IT, open data and innovation.

Prior to joining FCW, Gunter reported for the C-Ville Weekly in Charlottesville, Va., and served as a college sports beat writer for the South Boston (Va.) News and Record. He started at FCW as an editorial fellow before joining the team full-time as a reporter.

Gunter is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where his emphases were English, history and media studies.

Click here for previous articles by Gunter, or connect with him on Twitter: @WChaseGunter

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