Monday, October 5, 2009
Open government and the Federal Register
For more than 70 years, the Federal Register has been the official daily record for federal agency rules and notices, executive orders, and other presidential documents. But at 80,000 pages per year, it lands on your desk with a thud.
That's one reason why we're excited to see that the U.S. government is taking steps to make the Federal Register more open and accessible to citizens. Starting today, the Federal Register will be published in XML format to Data.gov, which will allow third-parties to develop new ways to organize, re-organize, and analyze its contents. Past issues of the Federal Register dating back to 2000 will also be posted online.
We're already seeing cool new tools emerge around this data. This morning Ed Felten of Princeton's Center for Information Technology Policy announced the launch of Fedthread.org, which allows users to annotate and search the Federal Register. The tool also allows users to set up customized RSS feeds for specific search queries, which will allow users to track items and issues over time. Amazingly, the project took only 10 days to create.
The Washington Post describes the Federal Register as the "de facto daily newspaper of the executive branch." Making the Federal Register available on Data.gov is an important step towards making that newspaper more accessible to citizens across the country.