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LOC calls on coders to rewire legislative data

The Library of Congress wants to "rewire" how Americans tap into legislative data.

Library of Congress CIO  Bud Barton called for citizen developers to unpack the linear legislative process and remake it in ways that improve  access to and understanding of legislation. Speaking at the  June 27 Legislative Data and Transparency Conference, Barton said  that the legislative data application challenge aims to  provide innovation solutions that marry centuries-old data with 21st century technology.

The challenge may result in apps that  change the way legislators do business and provide the public with greater transparency into the legislative process, he said. "It may even provide insights for the people doing the work around the clock, both on the Hill, and in state and district offices," he said. The understanding gained from the apps "could have the power to evolve our democracy," he added.

LOC will begin taking applications in the next couple weeks, he said, and the application window will likely be open for about six months. Applicants must be approved by a review board of tech representatives from LOC, as well as from the House and Senate, before they can compete in the challenge, he said. Selected participants can then begin working with any public legislative data that's open for use.

In terms of what LOC thinks could improve the legislative process, Barton suggested that final projects could enable the digital comparisons of "data over many decades, and see what's been the debate on a certain topic over time." They could also show the subjects on which members of Congress have introduced legislation to make it easier for their colleagues to identify common interests and collaborate, Barton suggested.

The competition is not expected to incur any additional costs, Barton said, and the prizes for winning applications will be announced in the near future.

This article was first posted to 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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