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Metric on Bill Importance

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  • pippop120
    Is there any metric of Bill Importance? Such a metric might be 100 for bills likely to be passed, 85 for bills likely to be voted on, but not passed, 70
    Message 1 of 11 , May 8, 2005
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      Is there any metric of "Bill Importance?" Such a metric might be 100
      for bills "likely" to be passed, 85 for bills likely to be voted on,
      but not passed, 70 for bills that will be discussed in committee, 0
      for those idiotic bills that are only introduced.

      A metric like this would be useful for filtering out the chaff of
      the many bills introduced and enable ordinary citizens to focus
      their efforts on the few bills that really matter.

      A related metric might detect "lost causes" - bills that have strong
      support in the House (e.g. ending the Estate tax) but are more
      evenly split in the Senate.

      Input to the metric might be who proposed it, number of co sponsors,
      where it is in the legislative process, whether similar bills have
      been introduced in previous sessions and gotten nowhere,
      Republican/Democratic split in Congress, etc. Even the bill number
      is important, since the numbers HR 1-10 are saved for important
      bills to be introduced later.

      Bear in mind that the Bankruptcy bill has been in progress for many
      years and finally passed. Ending the Estate tax is looking to
      finally pass after many years.

      Even without a metric, it would be useful to have search filters on
      whether bills are on a calendar, if they've gotten through a
      committee, if hearings are being held, etc. We can then avoid all
      the trash that have only been introduced. I know this information is
      available on a bill by bill basis, but haven't seen it available as
      a filter - correct me if I'm wrong.
    • Joshua Tauberer / GovTrack
      ... Well, if you can figure it out... :) I ve kept my eyes open for any information to come up with that, but I haven t come up with anything yet. ... (From
      Message 2 of 11 , May 9, 2005
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        pippop120 wrote:
        > Is there any metric of "Bill Importance?"

        Well, if you can figure it out... :) I've kept my eyes open for any
        information to come up with that, but I haven't come up with anything yet.

        > number of co sponsors

        (From what I've seen, and I'm no insider...) Bills with few cosponsors
        seem to do just as well as bills with many cosponsors.

        > where it is in the legislative process,

        Bills tend to go into committee for a while, and committee information
        isn't readily available online. But that's where the metric should be
        computed.

        > whether similar bills have been introduced in previous sessions and gotten nowhere,

        This could be a really good one, if there was an easy way of figuring it
        out. I could try comparing the text of legislation, but with thousands
        of bills each session, that's a fairly computationally intensive process.

        > Republican/Democratic split in Congress

        Which isn't known until after the bill is voted on.

        > Even the bill number is important, since the numbers HR 1-10 are saved for important
        > bills to be introduced later.

        Okay, now this one is an easy one to compute.

        > Even without a metric, it would be useful to have search filters on
        > whether bills are on a calendar, if they've gotten through a
        > committee,

        I can add that...

        > if hearings are being held, etc.

        http://www.govtrack.us/users/events.xpd?monitors=misc:allcommittee
        (This is missing House hearings.)

        My sense is that this is the type of thing that is best figured out by a
        human with some inside knowledge. Someone should start a blog devoted
        to legislation to watch, if there isn't one already.

        --
        - Joshua Tauberer

        http://taubz.for.net

        ** Nothing Unreal Exists **
      • TML
        Being able to track a bill/measure/amendment s permutations over the years (I m thinking of the current Immigration legislation, tacked onto a must pass
        Message 3 of 11 , May 9, 2005
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          Being able to track a bill/measure/amendment's permutations over the
          years (I'm thinking of the current Immigration legislation, tacked onto
          a 'must pass' appropriations bill), would be a fascinating (if not very
          pretty) window on the inner mechanics of Congress. Though Joshua is
          prolly correct, this, or a 'Bill of Importance' value, wouldn't be easy
          to track, much less create a metric for it. Interesting thought
          tho'....

          Tom

          On May 9, 2005, at 17:01, Joshua Tauberer / GovTrack wrote:

          > pippop120 wrote:
          > > Is there any metric of "Bill Importance?"
          >
          > Well, if you can figure it out... :)  I've kept my eyes open for any
          > information to come up with that, but I haven't come up with anything
          > yet.
          >
          > > number of co sponsors
          >
          > (From what I've seen, and I'm no insider...) Bills with few cosponsors
          > seem to do just as well as bills with many cosponsors.
          >
          > > where it is in the legislative process,
          >
          > Bills tend to go into committee for a while, and committee information
          > isn't readily available online.  But that's where the metric should be
          > computed.
          >
          > > whether similar bills have been introduced in previous sessions and
          > gotten nowhere,
          >
          > This could be a really good one, if there was an easy way of figuring
          > it
          > out.  I could try comparing the text of legislation, but with
          > thousands
          > of bills each session, that's a fairly computationally intensive
          > process.
          >
          > > Republican/Democratic split in Congress
          >
          > Which isn't known until after the bill is voted on.
          >
          > > Even the bill number is important, since the numbers HR 1-10 are
          > saved for important
          > > bills to be introduced later.
          >
          > Okay, now this one is an easy one to compute.
          >
          > > Even without a metric, it would be useful to have search filters on
          > > whether bills are on a calendar, if they've gotten through a
          > > committee,
          >
          > I can add that...
          >
          > > if hearings are being held, etc.
          >
          > http://www.govtrack.us/users/events.xpd?monitors=misc:allcommittee
          > (This is missing House hearings.)
          >
          > My sense is that this is the type of thing that is best figured out
          > by a
          > human with some inside knowledge.  Someone should start a blog devoted
          > to legislation to watch, if there isn't one already.
          >
          > --
          > - Joshua Tauberer
          >
          > http://taubz.for.net
          >
          > ** Nothing Unreal Exists **
          >
          >
          >
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        • Peggy Garvin
          TML, Josh, and company, Yes, interesting. If I had the time I would do a PoliSci literature search for such a thing. But Josh is correct in his reponses. I
          Message 4 of 11 , May 9, 2005
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            TML, Josh, and company,
            Yes, interesting. If I had the time I would do a
            PoliSci literature search for such a thing. But Josh
            is correct in his reponses.
            I have seem a number of legislative database attempts
            at tagging bills as high profile/likely to move, but
            they all fall apart at a certain point because the
            process is not that straightforward. The best website
            solutions are to have some sort of side-bar, compiled
            and constantly updated in an editorially controlled
            fashion by people tracking major and news-worthy
            bills. Databases need to track legislation by bill
            number, because that is a controlled bit of info, but
            what that bill number is attached to can change
            quickly and in complicated ways.
            When I want to narrow a subject search in THOMAS, I
            may limit it to bills reported out of committee, but
            that itself is a rough cut.
            --Peggy





            --- TML <tlinder@...> wrote:
            > Being able to track a bill/measure/amendment's
            > permutations over the
            > years (I'm thinking of the current Immigration
            > legislation, tacked onto
            > a 'must pass' appropriations bill), would be a
            > fascinating (if not very
            > pretty) window on the inner mechanics of Congress.
            > Though Joshua is
            > prolly correct, this, or a 'Bill of Importance'
            > value, wouldn't be easy
            > to track, much less create a metric for it.
            > Interesting thought
            > tho'....
            >
            > Tom
            >
            > On May 9, 2005, at 17:01, Joshua Tauberer / GovTrack
            > wrote:
            >
            > > pippop120 wrote:
            > > > Is there any metric of "Bill Importance?"
            > >
            > > Well, if you can figure it out... :)� I've kept
            > my eyes open for any
            > > information to come up with that, but I haven't
            > come up with anything
            > > yet.
            > >
            > > > number of co sponsors
            > >
            > > (From what I've seen, and I'm no insider...)
            > Bills with few cosponsors
            > > seem to do just as well as bills with many
            > cosponsors.
            > >
            > > > where it is in the legislative process,
            > >
            > > Bills tend to go into committee for a while, and
            > committee information
            > > isn't readily available online.� But that's where
            > the metric should be
            > > computed.
            > >
            > > > whether similar bills have been introduced in
            > previous sessions and
            > > gotten nowhere,
            > >
            > > This could be a really good one, if there was an
            > easy way of figuring
            > > it
            > > out.� I could try comparing the text of
            > legislation, but with
            > > thousands
            > > of bills each session, that's a fairly
            > computationally intensive
            > > process.
            > >
            > > > Republican/Democratic split in Congress
            > >
            > > Which isn't known until after the bill is voted
            > on.
            > >
            > > > Even the bill number is important, since the
            > numbers HR 1-10 are
            > > saved for important
            > > > bills to be introduced later.
            > >
            > > Okay, now this one is an easy one to compute.
            > >
            > > > Even without a metric, it would be useful to
            > have search filters on
            > > > whether bills are on a calendar, if they've
            > gotten through a
            > > > committee,
            > >
            > > I can add that...
            > >
            > > > if hearings are being held, etc.
            > >
            > >
            >
            http://www.govtrack.us/users/events.xpd?monitors=misc:allcommittee
            > > (This is missing House hearings.)
            > >
            > > My sense is that this is the type of thing that
            > is best figured out
            > > by a
            > > human with some inside knowledge.� Someone should
            > start a blog devoted
            > > to legislation to watch, if there isn't one
            > already.
            > >
            > > --
            > > - Joshua Tauberer
            > >
            > > http://taubz.for.net
            > >
            > > ** Nothing Unreal Exists **
            > >
            > >
            > >
            > > Yahoo! Groups Links
            > > � To visit your group on the web, go to:
            > > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/govtrack/
            > > �
            > > � To unsubscribe from this group, send an email
            > to:
            > > govtrack-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
            > > �
            > > � Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the
            > Yahoo! Terms of
            > > Service.
            > >
            >
            >
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          • Neal McBurnett
            This would be nice. One helpful metric is how many people are interested in it, e.g. how many govtrack users are tracking a bill, or any other such info that
            Message 5 of 11 , May 23, 2005
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              This would be nice.

              One helpful metric is how many people are interested in it, e.g. how
              many govtrack users are tracking a bill, or any other such info that
              is available. Also, how often it is mentioned in the congressional
              record, timing statistics, etc. At least, each bill could be ranked
              on each of those metrics, for search purposes and input to custom
              analysis tools.

              Do we have any lobbying info? Even doing some sort of google search
              for each bill number and reporting the count of matching pages might
              be of some value.

              Cheers,

              Neal McBurnett http://bcn.boulder.co.us/~neal/
              Signed and/or sealed mail encouraged. GPG/PGP Keyid: 2C9EBA60

              On Mon, May 09, 2005 at 05:01:04PM -0400, Joshua Tauberer / GovTrack wrote:
              > pippop120 wrote:
              > > Is there any metric of "Bill Importance?"
              >
              > Well, if you can figure it out... :) I've kept my eyes open for any
              > information to come up with that, but I haven't come up with anything yet.
              >
              > > number of co sponsors
              >
              > (From what I've seen, and I'm no insider...) Bills with few cosponsors
              > seem to do just as well as bills with many cosponsors.
              >
              > > where it is in the legislative process,
              >
              > Bills tend to go into committee for a while, and committee information
              > isn't readily available online. But that's where the metric should be
              > computed.
              >
              > > whether similar bills have been introduced in previous sessions and gotten nowhere,
              >
              > This could be a really good one, if there was an easy way of figuring it
              > out. I could try comparing the text of legislation, but with thousands
              > of bills each session, that's a fairly computationally intensive process.
              >
              > > Republican/Democratic split in Congress
              >
              > Which isn't known until after the bill is voted on.
              >
              > > Even the bill number is important, since the numbers HR 1-10 are saved for important
              > > bills to be introduced later.
              >
              > Okay, now this one is an easy one to compute.
              >
              > > Even without a metric, it would be useful to have search filters on
              > > whether bills are on a calendar, if they've gotten through a
              > > committee,
              >
              > I can add that...
              >
              > > if hearings are being held, etc.
              >
              > http://www.govtrack.us/users/events.xpd?monitors=misc:allcommittee
              > (This is missing House hearings.)
              >
              > My sense is that this is the type of thing that is best figured out by a
              > human with some inside knowledge. Someone should start a blog devoted
              > to legislation to watch, if there isn't one already.
              >
              > --
              > - Joshua Tauberer
              >
              > http://taubz.for.net
              >
              > ** Nothing Unreal Exists **
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              > Yahoo! Groups Links
              >
              >
              >
              >
            • Scott Beardsley
              ... Hmm, maybe a netflix/ipod esque rating system? Maybe one for popularity (ie rates importance) and another for support/non-support? Real-time polling
              Message 6 of 11 , May 23, 2005
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                --- Neal McBurnett <neal@...> wrote:
                > One helpful metric is how many people are interested
                > in it, e.g. how
                > many govtrack users are tracking a bill, or any
                > other such info that is available.

                Hmm, maybe a netflix/ipod esque rating system? Maybe
                one for popularity (ie rates importance) and another
                for support/non-support? Real-time polling (although
                the sample is likely non-representative - think
                digital divide).

                Or maybe just one metric (support/non-support) and the
                importance metric is extracted via most number of
                votes. Also, a sliding scale (ie support strongly,
                indifferent, against strongly) might be best since
                you'd then be able to determine volitility and
                possibly partisanship (among citizens at least).

                This would be a huge communication tool for not only
                citizens but also our representatives.

                Scott



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              • John DeBruyn
                Hi Scott: Don t foget undecided and how about permitting the voters to include there zip code and, perhaps even, annotate their own votes. John John DeBruyn
                Message 7 of 11 , May 24, 2005
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                  Hi Scott:
                   
                  Don't foget undecided and how about permitting the voters to include there zip code and, perhaps even, annotate their own votes.
                   
                  John
                   
                  John DeBruyn Denver CO USA
                  -----Original Message-----
                  From: govtrack@yahoogroups.com [mailto:govtrack@yahoogroups.com]On Behalf Of Scott Beardsley
                  Sent: Monday, May 23, 2005 11:18 PM
                  To: govtrack@yahoogroups.com
                  Subject: Re: [govtrack] Metric on Bill Importance


                  --- Neal McBurnett <neal@...> wrote:
                  > One helpful metric is how many people are interested
                  > in it, e.g. how
                  > many govtrack users are tracking a bill, or any
                  > other such info that is available. 

                  Hmm, maybe a netflix/ipod esque rating system? Maybe
                  one for popularity (ie rates importance) and another
                  for support/non-support? Real-time polling (although
                  the sample is likely non-representative - think
                  digital divide).

                  Or maybe just one metric (support/non-support) and the
                  importance metric is extracted via most number of
                  votes. Also, a sliding scale (ie support strongly,
                  indifferent, against strongly) might be best since
                  you'd then be able to determine volitility and
                  possibly partisanship (among citizens at least).

                  This would be a huge communication tool for not only
                  citizens but also our representatives.

                  Scott


                             
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                • Joshua Tauberer / GovTrack.us
                  ... The top-tracked bills are on the front page of the site, though without the number of users at the moment. The top bill has something like 60 users
                  Message 8 of 11 , May 24, 2005
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                    Neal McBurnett wrote:
                    > One helpful metric is how many people are interested in it, e.g. how
                    > many govtrack users are tracking a bill, or any other such info that
                    > is available.

                    The top-tracked bills are on the front page of the site, though without
                    the number of users at the moment. The top bill has something like 60
                    users tracking it, so it's not a very large number to use for this.
                    Plus, the top few bills have all been passed, so as a metric it's a bit
                    out of date.

                    > Also, how often it is mentioned in the congressional record

                    That's a good one.

                    > Do we have any lobbying info?

                    Not at the moment.

                    > Even doing some sort of google search
                    > for each bill number and reporting the count of matching pages might
                    > be of some value.

                    There are 4300 bills right now for this Congress, and there will be
                    10,000 by the end of next year. That makes it pretty impossible to do a
                    separate query for each bill.

                    When I was querying Technorati, I was able to give it a partial URL to a
                    page about a bill (i.e. on Thomas or GovTrack). So with one query I
                    could get back the first N (100?) references to bills, ranked by the
                    rank of the blog. One could extrapolate from that the most 'hot'
                    legislation.

                    This would work reasonably well, but the problem here is that ideally
                    one wants a system that can alert people about important legislation
                    before people are already talking about it in the blogosphere.

                    What I had envisioned using Technorati for was picking out the pundits
                    out there that could identify important legislation. If, for instance,
                    TPM mentioned a bill, it's probably important. But I had trouble 1)
                    recognizing the important/useful blogs automatically and 2) getting
                    readable information back from Techorati. The blog excerpts are not
                    particularly clean.

                    For Scott's voting system with John's suggestion about user
                    annotations-- I initially had something like that on GovTrack (before
                    the site was really public). I decided, though, that I don't want to
                    deal with user-submitted information to the site, e.g. comments that
                    need to be moderated. Also, because the visitors to the site make up a
                    very skewed self-selected sample, I'm not comfortable publishing what
                    percent of visitors agreed with legislation. These things have a place,
                    but I don't think on GovTrack.

                    That just leaves the popularity aspect of the metric, but if people
                    aren't voting with their opinion, one could easily just look at the raw
                    number of people visiting a page for a bill, right? You don't actually
                    have to ask them to vote on the importance of a bill.

                    This has the same problem of not being able to tell people what's
                    important before they already know about it. Not that those ideas
                    aren't useful in another context.

                    They're all good ideas, though. It would be good if other people tried
                    to see how these potential metrics performed and reported on that.
                    Obviously all of my data is there for the taking, and I can explain how
                    to work with it.

                    --
                    - Joshua Tauberer

                    http://taubz.for.net

                    ** Nothing Unreal Exists **
                  • Joshua Tauberer / GovTrack.us
                    To return to the idea of bill metrics for a moment: On the front page of GovTrack I ve changed the Hot Legislation list. Recently it had been listing the
                    Message 9 of 11 , Jun 10, 2005
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                      To return to the idea of bill metrics for a moment:

                      On the front page of GovTrack I've changed the 'Hot Legislation' list.
                      Recently it had been listing the bills that were monitored by the most
                      number of people.

                      It now is using Technorati. It's a list of bills mentioned by people in
                      their blogs (provided they linked to the bill at either Thomas or
                      GovTrack), ordered by... this is a mouthful... the total number of blogs
                      linking to to the blog entries that linked to the bill. So, when an
                      'important' blog mentions a bill, the bill is given a higher listing in
                      my list, because 'important' blogs have more inbound links.

                      (See: http://beta.technorati.com/search/thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery)

                      --
                      - Joshua Tauberer

                      http://taubz.for.net

                      ** Nothing Unreal Exists **
                    • Neal McBurnett
                      ... Thanks - looks like a good metric. How often is it calculated/updated? Does it only look at items dated recently? I only see the top four listed at
                      Message 10 of 11 , Jun 11, 2005
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                        On Fri, Jun 10, 2005 at 12:06:59PM -0400, Joshua Tauberer / GovTrack.us wrote:
                        > On the front page of GovTrack I've changed the 'Hot Legislation' list.
                        > Recently it had been listing the bills that were monitored by the most
                        > number of people.
                        >
                        > It now is using Technorati. It's a list of bills mentioned by people in
                        > their blogs (provided they linked to the bill at either Thomas or
                        > GovTrack), ordered by... this is a mouthful... the total number of blogs
                        > linking to to the blog entries that linked to the bill. So, when an
                        > 'important' blog mentions a bill, the bill is given a higher listing in
                        > my list, because 'important' blogs have more inbound links.
                        >
                        > (See: http://beta.technorati.com/search/thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery)

                        Thanks - looks like a good metric. How often is it
                        calculated/updated? Does it only look at items dated recently?

                        I only see the top four listed at govtrack, without a clarification
                        there on how they were selected. Is there a way to get more than the
                        top four, and to preserve at least some of the data for future
                        reference? "Top-twenty, week-by week", or "bills that hit the top 50,
                        with an indication of when and where they peaked"?

                        Cheers,

                        Neal McBurnett http://bcn.boulder.co.us/~neal/
                        Signed and/or sealed mail encouraged. GPG/PGP Keyid: 2C9EBA60
                      • Neal McBurnett
                        It might make sense to have separate hot lists for enacted legislation vs legislation-in-progress, or legislation-to-be-voted-on-soon (not sure how easy that
                        Message 11 of 11 , Jun 11, 2005
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                          It might make sense to have separate "hot" lists for enacted
                          legislation vs legislation-in-progress, or
                          legislation-to-be-voted-on-soon (not sure how easy that last one is).

                          A link from each bill to a technorati search for it would also be
                          nice, and tie into this metric.

                          -Neal
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