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OpenCongress is a project of the Participatory Politics Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that builds free & open-source software for civic engagement. The Sunlight Foundation, also a non-profit organization, is the founding and primary supporter of OpenCongress.
Quick call-to-action – today, Friday May 18th at 9:30 am 11am ET (changed, per Daniel Schuman’s photo – ed.), the Legislative Branch Subcommittee is holding a markup of a major appropriations bill. This is a crucial window of opportunity to compel the out-of-touch gatekeeepers at the Library of Congress and the members of Congress who oversee them to make public data open to the public in full. Background on OC Blog: our campaign is to #FreeTHOMAS now.
Click here to email your senators and representative in favor of open government data today. We’ve seeded the Message Builder with some suggested talking points; feel free to add your personal testimony about why you think our nation’s massively important legislative data ought to be, you know, open to the public it affects (and which paid for it).
There are zero compelling arguments against OpenGovData for THOMAS. It’s technically straightforward (and as you know, you have our help & collaboration). The only thing blocking it, as far as what the LoC can control, is institutional inertia & bureacratic foot-dragging. Totally weird & preposterous that the LoC is so intransigent on this common-sense #opengov #opendata issue (with virtually no arguments against it other than organizational unresponsiveness & lack of will). Conference attendees, we call you to pressure the LoC to start moving in this direction: bulk access first, legislative XML second, open API third, libre data by default fourth (or first).
Hundreds of thousands of OC visitors want real-time bill & vote & issue data every month, as do our 300,000 MyOC registered users (who could use it for deeper research & social sharing), and the millions more people searching for basic information about Congress around the open Web. We’ve provided more than enough compelling testimony, academic research, and peer-reviewed evidence of public demand & use case propositions & value generated (incl. economic benefits), and over three months later, you’ve refused to take action. See, for example, testimony from GovTrack (GovTrack users want better transparency from Congress, we co-sign Josh’s points) and Daniel Schuman, Sunlight Policy Counsel. This lack of access & lack of momentum towards access is unacceptable to the OC community. It’s mid-2012, we still don’t have #opengovdata, so we don’t have #opengov in America.
Questions, feedback? Email me: david at opencongress, or davidmooreppf on AIM or Skype, and see our #FreeTHOMAS community wiki whip count page for more background.