{ subscribe_url: '/share/sites/library-of-congress-blogs/law.php' }

A Congress.gov Interview with Rohit Gupta, Systems Architect

This week’s interview is with Rohit Gupta, a Systems Architect within the Office of Strategic Initiatives (OSI) Web Services.  Rohit joins Meg, Rich, and Barry in our series of Congress.gov interviews designed to highlight the people who have contributed to the new system.

Describe your background.

I grew up in Bombay, India and moved to the United States in 1990 for graduate school. I have a Bachelors degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Bombay, and a Masters degree in Computer Science from the University of Connecticut.

I started my career at a software product company in Columbus, Ohio, developing an automated workflow management product. A few years later I became a consultant and worked at Federal Express, Capital One and AT&T. In 1999 I launched my own consulting company doing software and systems architecture projects. I was the Global Portal Architect for PricewaterhouseCoopers, then the largest professional services company in the world, for many years. In 2007, I was hired by the Library to be the systems architect for the “Library of Congress Experience,” and the myloc.gov personalized portal site. I was also the systems architect and media services developer for the National Jukebox website which features sound recordings from the early twentieth century. I most recently worked on, and continue to work on Congress.gov.

How would you describe your job to other people?

As the Systems Architect in OSI Web Services, I have worn many hats.  In this capacity, I help translate business requirements into technical designs. I typically work with the senior developers on the project to help design the various components of the software product or application. As the technical architect, I have to ensure that we are optimizing the software that is written from a performance and scalability perspective using principles like caching and tuning, and ensuring that we define and follow best practices from a system reliability perspective using principles like redundancy and elimination of single points of failure.

As the development lead, I try to ensure that we have a good software development process. I also help in troubleshooting issues with other developers on the team. I occasionally do some limited software development on select components.  If that sounds too dry and boring, believe me, it’s not. It is both challenging and fun.

What was your role in the development of Congress.gov?

I am currently the Systems Architect for Congress.gov which means I have been involved in the requirements definition, software design, database design, technical architecture, and also lead the software development team under Mike Nibeck, OSI Web Services Development Manager (who also worked on the Congressional Record app).  I work with our able Subject Matter Experts from the Law Library of Congress and Congressional Research Service, as well as our Project Manager, Tammie and our Information Architect, Meg, on refining and defining the requirements, and ensuring that everything we were committed to building was technically feasible.

I worked with our project manager and data analyst to develop the database models (which encompasses over 75 database tables in our new relational database).  I worked with the Library’s developers on three development tracks: the ETL that moved data from the legacy database to the new Congress.gov database; the search engine; and the web application. We used a best of breed open source approach for the various pieces. We followed agile development for the software development lifecycle with sprints every four to six weeks to ensure that we developed the software in manageable iterations.

My goal and our team’s goal was to build an extensible legislative software platform that can evolve over many years, and a system that is built using a foundation of solid software design principles to handle additional content and functionality over these years.

As the systems architect, one of the major tasks was also ensuring that we had no single points of failure anywhere in the infrastructure. The use of redundant and load-balanced virtualized servers at every tier of the infrastructure ensures that we meet that goal, and can also scale the web application horizontally, as needed.

What is your favorite feature of Congress.gov?

Most of what I love is the under-the-hood software development stuff. The use of web caching and application caching technologies to achieve scalability and performance is my favorite “feature”.  There are many features from a usability perspective like faceted search and responsive web design that I love too.

What is the most interesting fact you’ve learned about the legislative process while working on Congress.gov?

I found the fact that at the beginning of each Congress the legislative rules can be changed just for that Congress to be both interesting and challenging from a data modeling perspective. For example, the 104th Congress allowed multiple House bill sponsors. I also found the fact that the first few bill numbers in every recent Congress are reserved for the Speaker or the Minority Leader in the House very interesting.

What’s something most of your co-workers do not know about you?

A couple of things that only a few people know: my Master’s thesis at University of Connecticut was on Object Databases, which used to be the rage in the 1990s.

Another fact: I was the architect of an automated trading system for a software company in Dublin, Ireland over a decade ago which at one point had over $1 trillion of foreign exchange trades per year going through it - and as far as I know no trades were lost!

6 Comments

  1. Lloyd Cata
    October 18, 2012 at 7:43 am

    Cool job…there are engineers, and there is enginuity; which appears to be Rohit Gupta’s forte.

    “Dreamers dream dreams, …engineers bring dreams to life” – Lloyd Cata

  2. Nima Patel Edwards
    October 18, 2012 at 8:23 am

    An excellent article! It’s great to know that LOC has such an experienced, capable and seriousSystems Architect to design, develop and and implement their new system!

  3. Naresh Shah
    October 18, 2012 at 9:34 am

    It’s a pleasure to see examples of when leading edge expertise is applied to benefit valuable government projects – in this case public information availability and transparency in government. Thanks to Rohit and the team of professionals he works with… from a taxpayer.

  4. Purvee Kempf
    October 19, 2012 at 11:53 am

    I use this websiteregularly as a part of working on the hill and really take for granted all the information it puts at my fingertips. So it’s fascinating to hear about Rohit Gupta and others that spend their time and energy making my workday smoother and easier. Thanks to them for all the energy and know how on making this a must use site.

  5. Lucas Kempf
    October 19, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    Somehow I think Thomas Jefferson would be proud that the LOC is still being built by top architects. I guess his “legacy” is being migrated too.

  6. Buck Powell
    October 26, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    It is a real pleasure to work on this project with you!

Add a Comment

This blog is governed by the general rules of respectful civil discourse. You are fully responsible for everything that you post. The content of all comments is released into the public domain unless clearly stated otherwise. The Library of Congress does not control the content posted. Nevertheless, the Library of Congress may monitor any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove content for any reason whatever, without consent. Gratuitous links to sites are viewed as spam and may result in removed comments. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on the Library site. Read our Comment and Posting Policy.

Required fields are indicated with an * asterisk.