Legislative data challenge hopes to advance access, international policies


The Library of Congress is challenging the public to help identify barriers to using open, legislative data formats in the hopes of increasing accessibility to the legislative record and creating opportunities for international standards.

Extensible markup language and Akoma Ntoso--an open framework used worldwide to annotate parliamentary, legislative and judiciary documents--are at the heart of the data challenge, which the library announced July 16.

"Rather than trying to convert existing U.S. bill XML to the proposed Akoma Ntoso standard, this challenge asks competitors to markup the raw text versions of U.S. bills using the structure, elements, and attributes of the Akoma Ntoso schema and produce an entirely new XML version of the bill," explained Tina Gheen, LOC's emerging technologies librarian in a July 16 blog post.

By applying a legislative data standard to U.S. documents, organizers hope to encourage the analysis of congressional data alongside other governments' legislative documents.

"American legislators, analysts, and the public can benefit from international standards that reflect U.S. legislation, thereby allowing better comparative legislative information," said Robert Dizard Jr., deputy librarian of Congress, in the announcement.

By Oct. 31, participants are asked to create representations of selected U.S. bills using the most recent Akoma Ntoso standard.

They should "identify gaps in the Akoma Ntoso framework or U.S. bill text where data cannot be incorporated properly within the existing standard, and propose new domain specific metadata elements or possibly other solutions to overcome these challenges," says the challenge.

The library will award the winning solution with $5,000 on Dec. 19.

For more:
- go to the challenge page
- read the LOC blog post
- read the challenge announcement

Related Articles:
GPO makes available XML bulk downloads of House bills
Transparency groups call for THOMAS bulk downloads
THOMAS.gov reboots