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GovTrack Opens up Information on US Legislature

Jul 26, 2008, 01:30 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Tina Gasperson)

"The data housed at Thomas.gov and other government sites was not published in an open format, and the Library of Congress didn't readily respond to Tauberer's requests for bug fixes. "They didn't give me a hard time," he says, "but they weren't particularly helpful either. The problems were all kind of small but they added up. The data you need isn't always there, and you don't know what it's going to look like. The biggest problem was taking the names of members of Congress and normalizing that and turning them into database identifiers. The Thomas Web site would use one set of names, but in the Senate records, the name may be slightly different." Tauberer ended up reverse-engineering his site by manually recreating the Thomas.gov databases. He coded the site searches and the front end, and released everything as copyleft and open source."

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