Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Opening the U.S. Code, does the U.S. House, release in XML it does...

E Pluribus Unum - U.S. House of Representatives publishes U.S. Code as open government data

Three years on, Republicans in Congress continue to follow through on promises to embrace innovation and transparency in the legislative process. Today, the United States House of Representatives has made the United States Code available in bulk Extensible Markup Language (XML).

“Providing free and open access to the U.S. Code in XML is another win for open government,” said Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, in a statement posted to “And we want to thank the Office of Law Revision Counsel for all of their work to make this project a reality. Whether it’s our ‘read the bill’ reforms, streaming debates and committee hearings live online, or providing unprecedented access to legislative data, we’re keeping our pledge to make Congress more transparent and accountable to the people we serve.”

House Democratic leaders praised the House of Representatives Office of the Law Revision Counsel (OLRC) for the release of the U.S. Code in XML, demonstrating strong bipartisan support for such measures.

“OLRC has taken an important step towards making our federal laws more open and transparent,” said Whip Steny H. Hoyer, in a statement.


“Just this morning, Josh Tauberer updated our public domain U.S. Code parser to make use of the new XML version of the US Code,” said Mill. “The XML version’s consistent design meant we could fix bugs and inaccuracies that will contribute directly to improving the quality of GovTrack’s and Sunlight’s work, and enables more new features going forward that weren’t possible before. The public will definitely benefit from the vastly more reliable understanding of our nation’s laws that today’s XML release enables.” (More from Tom Lee at the Sunlight Labs blog.)


“Last year, we reported that House Republicans had the transparency edge on Senate Democrats and the Obama administration,” he said. “(House Democrats support the Republican leadership’s efforts.) The release of the U.S. Code in XML joins projects like and in producing actual forward motion on transparency in Congress’s deliberations, management, and results.

For over a year, I’ve been pointing out that there is no machine-readable federal government organization chart. Having one is elemental transparency, and there’s some chance that the Obama administration will materialize with the Federal Program Inventory. But we don’t know yet if agency and program identifiers will be published. The Obama administration could catch up or overtake House Republicans with a little effort in this area. Here’s hoping they do.”

House of Representatives - US Code Most Current Release Point

Public Law 113-21
(Titles in bold are updated at this release point)

Information about the currency of United States Code titles is available on the Currency page.


The United States Code in XML uses the USLM Schema. That schema is explained in greater detail in the USLM Schema User Guide. For rendering the XML files, a Stylesheet (CSS) file is provided.

Each update of the United States Code is a "release point". This page contains links to downloadable files for the most current release point. The available formats are XML, XHTML, and PCC (photocomposition codes, sometimes called GPO locators). Certain limitations currently exist. Although older PDF files (generated through Microcomp) are available on the Annual Historical Archives page, the new PDF files for this page (to be generated through XSL-FO) are not yet available. In addition, the five appendices contained in the United States Code are not yet available in the XML format.

Links to files for prior release points are available on the Prior Release Points page. Links to older files are available on the Annual Historical Archives page.


While pretty cool, I was expecting something different. Seems the XML is really pretty much XHTML. So while it IS XML, it's still a display markup schema...


Guess we'll have to wait for this to complete, Legislative Data Challenge - Win $5k challenge by helping the Library of Congress make US laws machine readable.... Still I applaud the effort!


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