Rep. Lungren: XML standards to increase document transparency

Monday - 2/6/2012, 8:55am EST

Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.)

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The federal debt isn't the only thing growing fast. Congressional bills seem to be getting longer and harder to figure out.The House Administration Committee wants to change that.

Now, every House document will go into a new website. The goal is to make them more accessible to the public. The legislation will be posted using Extensible Markup Language, or XML. That will make what's in a bill easier to find, and the bills themselves more visible to search engines.

Rep. Dan Lungren (photo from House.gov)

Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.), chairman of the Committee on House Administration said both the House and Senate have been using XML for more than a decade, but now there will be a "full roll-out" of the machine-readable format.

"We think that when you establish that type of access, you basically have a faster, more accurate exchange of information, and that leads to a better understanding of what's being considered," Lungren said in an interview with The Federal Drive with Tom Temin.

The resolution to establish XML as a standard is the culmination of other efforts to increase transparency, including posting legislation online at least three days before the House takes a vote, posting proposals at least 24 hours before a committee vote, and posting committee votes, amendments and reports, Lungren said.

The Sunlight Foundation has called the resolution a "tremendous step."