Today Congress.gov continues to be enhanced with the addition of a new Advanced Search Guided Form, a more web-friendly version of the Congressional Record Daily Digest, new and updated browse reports, and more. Since announcing the July 5 retirement of THOMAS, we have added several new RSS feeds and email alerts including saved search email alerts. These enhancements are in addition to the April update where Quick Search was expanded.
To get a clear sense of the power of the new Advanced Search, I asked Kimberly Ferguson for a research scenario to share. In her scenario the researcher knows:
- Every few years you know that Congress passes a “farm bill” into law. You do not know which congresses [so you select “All Congresses”] and you do not know the bill number [so skip that box].
- You are relatively certain that a variation of the word “agriculture” will be in the title of the bill [so you check “Titles” in the “Words and Phrases” area, and leave “Word Variants” selected].
- You know that you are only interested in examining bills that became law [so you could check the box for “Check only legislation that can become law”. However, you can go down a bit further and select “Laws” from the “Actions/Status” area].
- You could also select the “Agriculture and Food” Policy Area.
- Finally, you know that this “farm bill” always goes to conference and in order to become law, the conference report has to be agreed to in both the House and Senate [so check both of those boxes from the “Full List” of Actions].
- Hit “Search” and find your results list of 38 bills. Then you remember that you only want measures that originated in the House – so you use the “Chamber of Origin” facet to reduce the list down to 28. Now sort the list by “Newest to Oldest” and start reading.
What else is new with this release?
Speaking of new items to browse, you can now browse the Congressional Record from 1989-1994 (101st to 103rd Congresses) in the Congressional Record Archive.
Margaret and Robert make it easier to see what is new on the Appropriations Chart with a Latest Update section at the top of the page. The Latest Update is also feeding a new RSS feed that you can find on the growing list of items now found on the RSS and Email Alerts page.
The Daily Digest of the Congressional Record has been given a web-friendly makeover. Rather than retro text like on the right in the example below, it is now stylized.
Robert has a run-down on our Enhancements page of all the things that are new and improved in this set of changes.
New feature – Advanced Search Guided Form:
- Advanced Search is now a guided form with help specific to legislative research
- Query Builder is the new name for the old Advanced Search
- New Advanced Search provides links to Query Builder and Command Line search
Enhancement – Legislation:
- Roll Call Votes total of House and Senate votes on bill overviews
- Roll Call Votes facet on the Actions tab
- Public Laws browse report includes TXT | PDF links
Enhancement – Congressional Record:
- Web-friendly Daily Digest
- Congressional Record archive for 1989-1994 (101-103rd Congresses) added
Enhancement – Highlighting:
- Amendments, bill texts, related bills, subjects, and titles have highlighting
- Phrase highlighting is supported
Enhancement – Saved Search:
o Quick Search forms include Save Search links
Enhancement – Browse:
- House, Senate, and executive committee reports browse lists
- New “Nominations by Number” browse lists
New feature – Command Line Search:
- The ability to turn off stemming and case variants is now supported for the allBillTitles field
Enhancement – Treaties and Nominations:
- “All Information” pages have been added
New Historic data – Senate Executive Communications:
- Senate Executive Communications for 1979-1986 (96-99th Congresses)
- An RSS Feed is now available that will update subscribers each time the most current appropriation table is updated.
This will be the last major Congress.gov release before THOMAS retires on July 5th.
For those interested in learning more about Congress.gov and other legislative branch projects, next Tuesday, June 21, there will be the fifth annual Legislative Data and Transparency Conference (#LDTC16) in the Capitol Visitor Center Congressional Auditorium. The event is hosted by the Committee on House Administration. During it I will provide an overview of the recent enhancements to Congress.gov.
Remember to keep sending us feedback on Congress.gov.