It has been six months since we introduced Congress.gov. During that time we’ve been busy working to develop the beta into a full system. The first update after the September launch was in October when we made searching variants of citations easier. In November we continued to revise Congress.gov.
With the start of the 113th Congress in early January, we updated the beta system for the transition. The major enhancement to the system came toward the end of January when we added the Congressional Record. Throughout the six months, Pam and Judy have offered webinars and in person training to introduce users to Congress.gov.
One of my favorite improvements over THOMAS has been the addition of the Status of Legislation graphic. It attempts to boil down the legislative status steps into something that quickly conveys a lot of information.
I also love the responsive web design of the site. It formats across any device I’m using and gives me a quick way to access Congressional information if I’m away from my desk.
Over the past six months a variety of items made our top ten, including defense, pay, taxes, and video games. But nothing has been viewed as many times as H.J.Res.15, which is a proposal to repeal the 22nd Amendment. It is a concept that has been introduced in each Congress available on Congress.gov (from the 107th through the 113th). Since it isn’t a new idea it is surprising that it is so popular. I often try to search online for why this might be the case, and sometimes the web provides interesting explanations.
The top ten most viewed bills and resolutions for the first six months of Congress.gov are:
- H.J.Res.15 [113th] – Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to repeal the twenty-second article of amendment, thereby removing the limitation on the number of terms an individual may serve as President;
- H.R.748 [113th] – Universal National Service Act;
- H.R.226 [113th] – Support Assault Firearms Elimination and Reduction for our Streets Act;
- H.R.8 [112th] – American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (also known as the “Fiscal cliff” bill);
- H.R.6429 [112th] – STEM Jobs Act of 2012;
- H.R.4310 [112th] – National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013;
- H.R.150 [113th] – Congressional Pay Reduction Act;
- H.R.287 [113th] – Video Games Ratings Enforcement Act;
- H.R.273 [113th] – To eliminate the 2013 statutory pay adjustment for Federal employees; and
- H.R.193 [113th] – Seed Availability and Competition Act of 2013.
We are still using the hashtag #Congressdotgov to let people know more about the site through our @LawLibCongress and @THOMASdotgov Twitter accounts. We frequently tweet the most viewed bill from the last week.
Jill MacNeice is leading our user testing of the new system. It has been an interesting experience to sit and watch people complete tasks on a system that I’ve been involved with. I’ve typically observed remotely with the phone on mute, which is probably a good thing, because I occasionally let out a “move the mouse a little to the left” or “scroll down and click the facet.”
If you haven’t already, please take a minute to leave your feedback and complete our survey. I find it very helpful to read through each comment we receive (and sit in on as much of the user testing as possible). I’ve seen what is next and can’t wait to share with you. Watch for more content like increasing from major actions to the more broad legislative actions, legislation from previous Congresses, more past material from the Congressional Record, and Congressional reports. It has been a great first six months. I’m excited to see where we will be when we celebrate Congress.gov’s first birthday.