Saturday, June 16, 2012

[G] In Support of Legislative Transparency

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Google Public Policy Blog: In Support of Legislative Transparency

Posted by Seth Webb, Senior Policy Manager

Google believes that policy-making should be grounded in sound analysis of data. We take this to heart -- it’s why we launch tools like the Transparency Report, which shows when and what information is accessible on Google services around the world. Similarly, when governments are transparent with their legislative data, their citizens can be more active participants in the political process.

Last year, for example, the U.S. House of Representatives identified transparency as one of its top priorities, and since then it has taken several steps towards becoming more open. The House now streams and archives video of committee hearings, and it shares draft legislation for public consultation online.

As part of its ongoing effort to promote openness and transparency, the House of Representatives voted for an appropriations bill that directs a task force to examine and expedite the process of disclosing large amounts of legislative data to the public. Even before the bill was passed, Congressional leadership issued a statement on the importance of transparency and requested for the task force to begin its work immediately.

We believe the ability to download bulk legislative data in formats like XML on a regular basis provides tremendous benefits. Website and app developers can use such data to provide up-to-date information on bills. Researchers can use it to perform studies. And politically-curious citizens can use it to follow legislation moving its way through Congress.

We've seen positive transparency efforts throughout the U.S. government. The White House, for one, recently issued a Digital Government Strategy that called for data from offices in the executive branch to be made more easily accessible by application developers.

New information platforms make it easier for the American public to watch and participate in their government, which strengthens the political process as a whole. We applaud Congress for the work that it's done to promote openness and look forward to a future of increased legislative transparency.

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