Tuesday, 24 November 2015

The Statutes at Large Modernization Act

On November 16, 2015, Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass) and Rep. David Brat (R-VA) introduced H.R. 4006, The Statutes at Large Modernization Act, calling for the digitization of entire run of the United States Statutes at Large. According the Rep. Brat's press release the act is "essential in ensuring the federal government is accountable to the American people." The aim of the legislation is to "ensure that Americans have easy access to the entire legal history of the United States by putting it online." The legislation is an acknowledgement that our federal government is dependent on an informed public. The Law Library of Congress has already made a version of the Statutes at Large available, but, according to Rep. Brat's office blog post, "The Law Library of Congress has published the Statutes at Large in a text-over-PDF format. It does not, however, include adequately defined and embedded data elements that enable advanced search functions, machine readability, and other useful options. It's a good start, but it isn't the modern, authoritative version we need." The legislation call for the new digitization process to be overseen by the Archivist at the National Archives and specifies a budget of $5M per year for the next five years. Leading groups working to improve government transparency have endorsed this bill including the Sunlight Foundation, R Street Institute, Demand Progress, Liberty Coalition, Data Transparency Coalition, OpentheBooks.com, and Niskanen Center.

hat tip:  Richard Leiter

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