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Open House Project releases report

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  • Josh Tauberer
    Hey, all. On Tuesday, the Open House Project released its report at a press conference in the Capitol building before a handful of House staffers. I gave a
    Message 1 of 1 , May 10, 2007
      Hey, all. On Tuesday, the Open House Project released its report at a
      press conference in the Capitol building before a handful of House
      staffers. I gave a 5-minute speech about the section of the report on
      creating an open database of legislative information.

      More here, including the final report:

      Two videos are available, one is a sort of fun promotional video, the
      type of thing to spread around to get people interested in the project,
      the other is a video of the press conference itself.

      Comments on the report are welcome on the OHP website (each chapter is
      comment-enabled). I'm pasting part of the press release below.

      - Josh Tauberer

      Sunlight’s Open House Project Publishes Transparency Recommendations to
      Strengthen Public Access to Congress

      [The report is available at the following URL:
      http://www.theopenhouseproject.com/the-open-house-project-report/ and as
      a PDF at

      May 8, 2007

      Contact: Gabriela Schneider
      202-742-1520, ext. 236

      WASHINGTON, DC - In a presentation to congressional staff and
      Representatives, members of the Open House Project delivered today
      recommendations for a series of technological reforms that would
      increase transparency and public access to the work and members of the
      U.S. House of Representatives.

      “Americans are communicating with each other in a ‘Web 2.0′ dynamic
      environment, but Congress is restricted in its online activities by
      outdated rules implemented when the Web first launched over 10 years
      ago,” said Ellen Miller, executive director of the Sunlight Foundation.
      “The Open House Project convened a diverse, bipartisan group of experts
      to help open the proceedings of the House of Representatives so it can
      be the transparent, open-source kind of legislature appropriate for the
      21st century.”

      A project of the Sunlight Foundation - the Open House Project - is a
      collaborative effort by government and legislative information experts,
      congressional staff, non-profit organizers and bloggers to study how the
      House of Representatives currently integrates the Internet into its
      operations, and to suggest attainable reforms to promote public access
      to its work and members.

      The group, which includes renowned technologist Clay Shirky, Bush/Cheney
      2004 eCampaign Director Mike Turk, Govtrack creator Joshua Tauberer, and
      leading blogger Markos Moulitsas-Zuniga of the Daily Kos, devised its
      transparency recommendations online in thoroughly collaborative way —
      from choosing topics through conversations on a list-serve, to
      researching House institutions and reforms through blog posts and a
      wiki, to authoring sections of the report with shared documents online.

      “We look forward to working with members and their staff to get their
      feedback on best ways to implement these reforms, which will help
      citizens be more confident that their Representatives are working in
      their interest,” said John Wonderlich, program director of the Sunlight
      Foundation. “This is truly exciting because our simple and
      straightforward recommendations will discourage corruption and increase
      accountability, fostering a deeper connection between civically
      empowered constituents and their legislators.”

      The Open House Project’s reforms include:

      * Legislation Database-publish legislative data in structured formats
      * Preserving Congressional Information-protect congressional
      information through archiving and distribution
      * Congressional Committees-recognize committees as a public
      resource by making committee information available online
      * Congressional Research Service-share non-partisan research beyond
      * Member Web-Use Restrictions-permit members to take full advantage
      of internet resources
      * Citizen Journalism Access-grant House access to non-traditional
      * The Office of the Clerk of the House-serve as a source for
      digital disclosure information
      * The Congressional Record-maintain the veracity of a historical
      * Congressional Video-create open video access to House proceedings
      * Coordinating Web Standards-commit to technology reform as an
      administrative priority

      “Our recommendations make up the most significant reforms since the
      mid-1990s, when then-Speaker Newt Gingrich oversaw the creation of the
      online legislative database called THOMAS and paved the way for members’
      Web sites,” said Rob Bluey, director of the Center for Media & Public
      Policy at The Heritage Foundation. “Congress now has a unique
      opportunity to bridge the partisan divide on an issue that should win
      broad support among Democrats and Republicans.”
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