The Library of Congress Launches Thomas.gov Replacement: API-based Congress.gov

Eric Carter, Founder & Corporate Counsel, Dartsand
Sep. 25 2012, 11:15AM EDT

The Library of Congress announced the successor to Thomas.gov (the current site to access congressional information). Congress.gov will eventually provide access to the same information as Thomas.gov, and more; however, Congress.gov provides easier access to the data via a series of APIs. The Thomas.gov system receives more than 10 million visits per year; however TechPresident states:

"the Library of Congress feels that the existing system can no longer support the demands and capabilities of a modern online interface, especially on mobile devices." Library of Congress Director of Communications, Gayle Osterberg, described Congress.gov: "The underlying platform of the new site supports any features that may be required or requested by Congress, including multiple distribution models such as API."

Currently, Congress.gov provides access to legislation and member profiles while the site remains in beta. Congress.gov plans to "operate as a beta site for the next year to gather feedback and the refine the functionality." As the platform progresses, additional data will be accessible (i.e. Congressional Record, Committee Reports, Nominations, Treaties, Senate Executive Communications, and House Executive Communications). For a roadmap of data availability, visit the coverage dates site.

The Library of Congress developed Congress.gov using open sourced platform (SOLR). Discussions surrounding a Thomas replacement started roughly a year ago, and development began in January 2012. According to Library of Congress Web Services Chief, Jim Karamanis, Congressional leadership has been "very supportive" of the project and the Web Services team has been "excited [about the project] for an entire year."

Eric Carter Eric is the founder of Dartsand and Corporate Counsel for a specialty technology distributor. He is a frequent contributor to technology media outlets and also serves as primary legal counsel for multiple startups in the Real Estate, Virtual Assistant, and Software Development Industries. Follow me on Google+

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