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Congress.gov: Removing the Beta Label and New Enhancements

removing-the-beta-from-congressdotgovThe Library of Congress launched Congress.gov in beta two years ago.  Today, I’m happy to announce we officially removed the beta label. That’s roughly three years quicker than Gmail took to remove its beta label, but we won’t give you the option of putting it back on Congress.gov.  URLs that include beta.Congress.gov will be redirected to Congress.gov.

There are a range of new enhancements in this release.  One of the exciting additions is a new Resources section.  This section provides an A-to-Z list of hundreds of links related to Congress.  If you are not sure where something is located, try looking through this list.  I quickly jump through the list using Ctrl+F and searching.  You can find the new Resources page in the navigation on the top right or in the footer on every page.  Check it out and leave a comment below.

Congress.gov Resources

Congress.gov Resources

With our February Congress.gov update, we added Browse and Advanced Search.  Both of those have been improved with today’s release.  You can now browse a list of bills sponsored and cosponsored by all Representatives or Senators.  There’s also a great days in session calendar view which links directly to each day’s Congressional Record.  Instead of focusing on just one Congress, you now have the option to browse across all Congresses.  The Advanced Search has improved with more than thirty new fields available to construct increasingly detailed and intricate searches that you can then save.

advanced-search-second-iteration

House Committee Hearings and Meetings Video

The LIVE icon appears when a committee is streaming.

Most-Viewed Bills on Congress.gov

Most-Viewed Bills on Congress.gov

The popular Top Ten on THOMAS has now morphed into the Most Viewed on Congress.gov. We’ve had the three most-viewed bills on our homepage since the site launched but now there is an expanded view with an archive going back to late July.

House Committee hearings and meetings are now available to watch live on Congress.gov.  An icon appears next to each committee that is broadcasting. Archived videos going back to January 2012 are available to view and are listed by date.

We really value the feedback that we receive about Congress.gov. Whether it is a comment on this blog, via the feedback form, or a tweet, we read them all. One of the items suggested was to have a page where you can quickly see what is in each tab. With this release, there is now a link to “All Bill Information (Except Text)” from legislation, which provides a list of the summary, major actions, all actions, titles, subjects, cosponsors, committees, and related bills.

All of these build upon those featured in our June release when we added nominations, accounts, and saved searches. Robert once again updated the enhancement page for this release to include:

September 2014

New feature – Congress.gov Resources

  • Congress.gov Resources enhances the accessibility and comprehension of Congress.gov content through a variety of information curated by information professionals at the Library of Congress.
  • The new section features enhanced access to the top-ten most viewed bills, as well as an archive.

New Feature – House Committee Hearing Videos

  • The House Committee video live streams and archives are now available in Congress.gov. They may be accessed through a landing page and through Committee profile pages.

Improvement – Advanced Search:

  • The new advanced search adds support for a number of additional fields, including nominations, Congressional Record, and member. Additional legislative fields are also supported.
  • The bioguide ID available when searching member fields and the committee ID is now supported when searching committee fields.
  • Advanced search now defaults to two open advanced search “lines.”
  • A search of legislation now defaults to the current Congress.

Improvement – Browse:

  • The Browse page has been restructured.
  • You may now search across all Congresses in Browse.
  • New reports and tables are available to display:
    • Bill by Sponsor/Cosponsor
    • Days in Session Calendar
    • Roll Call Votes

Miscellaneous Improvements:

  • The bill type is now a multi-select facet.
  • A “view all” version of the bill detail page is available.
  • Member profile page urls support the bioguide ID.
  • Committee profile pages include a Committee facet.

Just because the beta label has been removed doesn’t mean we will not still be hard at work updating the website.  We have a plan for new features and enhancements to launch throughout the next year and beyond.

Congress.gov works great on all platforms and devices!

Congress.gov works great on all platforms and devices!

8 Comments

  1. Stephen Marmon
    September 27, 2014 at 8:34 am

    Congratulations. Sorry to see the final retirement of the great “Thomas” name but the new site is better than ever. Looking forward to more improvements.

  2. Jonathan Verhoef
    October 1, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    Congress.gov is very streamlined and user-friendly compared to Thomas,but I am curious, when is Thomas’ final retirement date? Has that been set?

  3. Todd
    October 6, 2014 at 9:51 am

    For years I have gotten a lot of value out of THOMAS’s “yesterday in Congress” feature. Are there any plans to add a similar feature to Congress.gov?

    Thank you.

  4. Jake
    October 6, 2014 at 9:54 pm

    This blog is most interesting! I haven’t commented on many government-run websites, if any at all. But this one is very easy to navigate with VoiceOver, Apple’s built-in screen reader. The comment form is very accessible as well. Thank you for this great information.

  5. Andrew Weber
    October 7, 2014 at 8:55 am

    Jonathan, the date hasn’t been set yet for the final retirement of THOMAS.

    Todd, thank you for your feedback! We are planning on doing something similar (and hopefully better) than the “Yesterday in Congress” feature.

  6. C. Daves
    October 15, 2014 at 2:03 am

    congratulation congress.gov ! it nice and Resources A to Z system awesome…..

  7. anne
    October 26, 2014 at 1:18 am

    I am not intersted in politice news but after visiting your site its feel good .

  8. Keith Fuller
    November 6, 2014 at 5:30 pm

    This is an awesome site and I can wait to dig in. Congratulations on a fine job!

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