In December I wrote about the various agencies that contribute to Congress.gov. This month I thought it would be interesting to turn to some of the staff at the Library of Congress and have them speak in their own words about the work they do for Congress.gov. We hope to have a second part to this post in a month or two that will include information about all the work our colleagues in the Congressional Research Service (CRS) do for Congress.gov as well.
I am very happy to be part of the team that works on Congress.gov. As the product owner of Congress.gov, I work with people across the Library of Congress and Capitol Hill. Sometimes I feel like my job is a bit like playing chess, trying to determine what move needs to be made now versus what can be made later. Sometimes we have an issue that requires immediate attention. Other times we have big picture projects that will take a significant amount of time, such as migrating the Century of Lawmaking data to Congress.gov. There are a lot of stakeholders for the website so it is important to balance their needs and continue to enhance the website.
As the Systems Architect for Congress.gov for over 10 years, I have been fortunate to work with an amazing team on the business side, great subject matter experts from the Law Library and CRS, wonderful data partners from GPO, the House and Senate, and a cross-functional technical team that can do great work on the web application, backend, and enterprise search implementation. Combine that with top-notch user experience (UX) experts and testers who excel in test automation and its an unbeatable team that keeps excelling. We ship around 17 releases a year using a highly functional automated DevOps pipeline. The fun challenge we have dealt with over the years is ensuring that the application architecture stays current with the latest technologies and tools, while continuing to deliver new content and new functionality. We have to continually keep scaling horizontally since the website has become a lot more popular over the years. I personally have learned a lot about the legislative process, and the nuances of how Congress works, since we get to present it all on Congress.gov which is the definitive source for legislative information for the US Congress.
My longtime colleague in the Law Library, Jennifer, performs invaluable work, overseeing the interns who provide metadata for the website and who are helping with the migration of Century of Lawmaking to Congress.gov:
I work as webmaster for the Law Library, but my favorite part of the job is working with interns to create metadata to get more collections online. I manage this intern program and various metadata projects to add historical documents and more data to Congress.gov. Each fall and spring our cohorts work on different projects that continue to evolve as we add more to the website.
Robert is also a colleague at the Law Library and heads up our Office of External Relations, organizing the Law Library’s programs and presentations:
My primary job is serving as the chief of the Law Library’s Office of External Relations, but I also serve as one of the Congress.gov subject matter experts from the Law Library. Along with the other Congress.gov subject matter experts, we meet to discuss the creation of new features for Congress.gov, many of which are inspired by feedback that we receive from the public through the Congress.gov feedback form and through the Congress.gov Public Forum. Together with my colleague Barbara, I co-teach Congress.gov webinars for the public. I also update the most-viewed bills, the Congress.gov enhancements page, and the Congress.gov Gov Delivery notifications for each new release. In addition, I write some of the Congress.gov posts for the Law Library’s blog and manage the Congress.gov Twitter feed, which shares search tips and recent Congress.gov enhancements.
Speaking of enhancements, we have enhanced the Select Date calendar for the Congressional Record so it will only show dates on which Congress was in session.
Enhancement – Congressional Record – Date Search
- The Select Date calendar on the Congressional Record search form only shows dates on which an issue was published.
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