New Bill Would Bring Transparency and Openness for Federal Laws
Reps. David Brat and Seth Moulton re-introduce the Statutes at Large Modernization Act, H.R. 1729
Washington, D.C. — Congressman David Brat (R-VA) and Congressman Seth Moulton (D-MA) have reintroduced the Statutes at Large Modernizations Act (SALMA), H.R. 1729. If enacted, SALMA would put all historical federal laws online in a machine-readable, open data format.
“Congress must adopt a comprehensive open data structure for all legislative materials including bills, amendments, and enacted laws,” said Hudson Hollister, Executive Director of the Data Coalition. “The Statutes at Large Modernization Act will transform the Statutes at Large from outdated documents and PDFs to open, machine-readable data. Citizens, journalists, reporters and Congress itself will benefit.”
- The US Code is not a complete history of US laws. While the US Code organizes (a process called “codification”) all public laws (“Pub.L.”) by subject matter, the US Statutes at Large lists them sequentially, the way they were originally passed by Congress. Therefore the US Code does not include repealed laws, original laws prior to being amended, private laws (“Pvt. L.”) affecting individuals or small groups, or cyclical bills with limited duration such as annual Congressional appropriations or infrastructure projects.
- SALMA directs the Government Publishing Office to lead the online digitization of the Statutes at Large, collaboration with other Federal and private entities with expertise in developing formatting conventions legislative materials.
- SALMA will make the Statutes at Large available in a searchable, non-proprietary open data format on Congress.gov, aligned with Congress’s US Legislative Model (USLM), the leading open data format for legislative materials. The USLM uses standardized electronic data elements to specify titles, sections, and paragraphs; identify citations; pinpoint dates of enactment and effectiveness; and express other information that previously had to be manually understood by humans reading the text.
- SALMA will mean software can understand the structure of historically-passed laws, connect citations electronically, and enable valuable legal and legislative research.
Read the full text of the bill here.
Contact: Jessica Yabsley at Jessica.firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-415-4025
About the Data Coalition:The Data Coalition advocates on behalf of the private sector and the public interest for the publication of government information as standardized, open data. Open data enhances accountability, improves government management, reduces compliance costs, and stimulates innovation. Our members represent a cross-section of the technology industry and implementers, including market leaders such as Workiva, Donnelley Financial Solutions, Booz Allen Hamilton, PwC, and CGI Federal and growing start-ups such as idaciti and cBEYONData. Collectively, they employ over two hundred thousand Americans and have a combined market capitalization exceeding $1.5 trillion. For more information, visit datacoalition.org.