Today’s interview is with David Revzin, a legislative data specialist in the Congressional Research Service (CRS). David was previously a remote DRD intern and did a guest post on The Arctic Council at 25.
Describe your background.
After graduating from Georgia State University in Atlanta, I moved to Boston where I worked in the cargo office of Delta Air Lines. You may wonder how managing international freight and customs clearances relates to what I do now, but being able to employ both interpersonal and technical skills to collaborate with partner agencies and stakeholders—while maintaining and troubleshooting information systems—turned out to be great preparation for my present position.
I learned about CRS soon after starting my M.S. library and information science program at Simmons University in Boston when a classmate (who was a Library of Congress Junior Fellow) brought it up based on my background and interests. The nonpartisan mission of CRS really resonated with me and was my initial motivation for seeking out opportunities at the Library of Congress. My introduction to the Library was an internship with the Law Library’s Digital Resources Division, during which I authored a post on Arctic governance. The internship gave me a feel for what working at the Library might be like through interactions with staff and leadership, as well as robust professional development programming.
Before coming to CRS, I had a chance to work for the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) at the headquarters of the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium. EPRS and CRS share similar missions and I feel fortunate for getting to be part of such well-respected entities on both sides of the Atlantic. After returning to the U.S., I started at CRS in the Office of Legislative Information Services as a legislative research assistant before becoming a legislative data specialist on the Congress.gov team.
How would you describe your job to other people?
We are the CRS team helping maintain, organize, and present legislative information on Congress.gov. We also manage the CRS Congress.gov Help Desk for congressional staff and CRS users. We work on a wide range of pretty specialized topics, so the role requires legislative and technical knowledge combined with clear communication to serve congressional needs. We are tasked with ensuring that data from a variety of sources (sometimes in disparate forms) is accessible, coherent, discoverable, and up-to-date in a centralized, searchable space on Congress.gov.
What is your role in the development of Congress.gov?
I conduct quality checks on incoming data and work with developers, as well as with legislative partners in the House, Senate, and Government Publishing Office, to ensure information systems are operating, data is accurate, and Congress.gov stays up-to-date. I contribute to longer-term projects like expanding committee collections and strengthening advanced search features. We also manage the CRS Congress.gov Help Desk dedicated to handling inquiries from congressional offices, CRS analysts, librarians, and researchers who rely on Congress.gov.
What is your favorite feature of Congress.gov?
I think the Congress.gov Browse page is a great place to get a general overview of what’s going on in Congress. You can click to expand sections such as Congressional Activity, Committees, and the Congressional Record for direct links to nearly every aspect of the legislative process. I appreciate having access to all these key resources on one page.
What is the most interesting fact you’ve learned about the legislative process while working on Congress.gov?
What I learned in school gave me a good general understanding of the legislative process, but working directly with the data and seeing the day-to-day flow of information has been incredibly insightful in terms of comprehending how precedent and procedure play out in the legislative branch. I have also found that learning about the central role publication plays in lawmaking provides a clearer big-picture perspective of how it all fits together. It is challenging but rewarding work, and I am honored to play a small part in what happens behind-the-scenes to modernize data standards and improve the overall quality of legislative information.
What’s something most of your co-workers do not know about you?
You never know what you will come across among Library collections. I was browsing the Carol Highsmith Collection and found myself staring at some familiar scenes—photographs of my uncle’s ranch in Wyoming.
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