Washington, D.C. can get quite miserable during the summer heat. Rather than sweating outside, we like to channel our frustration with the weather by updating Congress.gov and sharing related news during the August recess. This continues a tradition that started with THOMAS back in 2010; and continued with our sharing popular items in 2011; introducing Congress.gov in 2012; showing how to add the site to your phone’s home screen in 2013; removing Congress.gov’s beta label in 2014; and highlighting the most-viewed items from the summer of 2015. We are excited to see that these updates are being noticed – FedScoop, the Washington, D.C. government tech media company, announced that Congress.gov is one of their nominees for the 2016 FedScoop 50 awards.
This year’s end-of-summer release includes enhancements to quick search, enhancements to accounts and alerts, normalization of search results (across our global, quick, and advanced searches), several improvements to the user experience, and a variety of small enhancements and fixes.
One focus of this release is consistency. As we have added the new legislation advanced search and the quick search, the results looked different than our global search. With this update, you can now adjust how the results are displayed.
Another change, and one that I am particularly excited about, is the ability to stay signed in for longer than 30 minutes. We have added many great features during the last few updates that are tied to accounts, including legislation alerts, member alerts, and saved search alerts. Now you will not need to sign back in every time you step away from your computer or device. Check the box in front of “Remember Me” when you are signing in to take advantage of this new feature.
There is also a new alert for nominations. Now you will be able to get email alerts for any of the nominees from the president as they go through the advice and consent process in the Senate. Click “Get alerts” under the PN number at the top left of the page. Did you know that the PN number (which stands for Presidential Nomination) is assigned by the Executive Clerk in the Senate?
One behind the scenes item that our terrific team of developers are working on is to get the site ready for the 115th Congress that begins in January. They are helping to make sure we have a smooth transition. When a new president takes office, there are a lot of nominations. So January will also be a good time to make use of the new nomination alerts.
With today’s update, Robert added the following to the Congress.gov Enhancements page:
Enhancements – Accounts, Alerts, and Saved Searches
- “Remember Me” password functionality
- Change title of your Saved Search
Enhancements – Search Results
- Customization options to show or hide facets, the Legislation Tracker, and collection labels
- Cosponsor counts included in results lists for legislation
Enhancements – Usability
- Coverage dates and “About” page links added to all full collection pages
Enhancements – Legislation Advanced Search Guided Form
- Popup message about leaving the form has been removed
- “Bill History in the Congressional Record” (on “Actions” tab) has reciprocal link back to bill
Enhancements – Query Builder
- Date calendar access improvements
Enhancement – Quick Search
- Congressional Record
- Committee Reports
- Treaty Documents
- Communications to the Senate
Enhancements to Legislation
- From “Bill History in the Congressional Record” there is now a link back to the bill record
Enhancements – Treaty Documents
- “All Information (Except Text)” feature
- “Congress” facet improvements
Enhancements – Nominations
- Alerts for Nominations
- “All Information” feature
As always, we welcome feedback on Congress.gov.
I’m happy to see more services becoming available for nominations research. I would love to see machine readable nominations data, particularly down to the granularity of individual actions on nominations.