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drm’s Letters to Congress

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drm 01/04/2013 7:54pm

Thank you for adding your comment, always interested in ideas for reform & feedback from users. Feel free to email me anytime with your thoughts, david at opencongress.org, and I can always RT an article if you send me a link of interest, @ppolitics on the Twitter micropublishing service. We’re working towards a more open & participatory democratic process, background: http://www.participatorypolitics.org/about.

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drm 06/13/2012 2:48pm

Grant, thanks for that comment, sorry just now replying – been tweeting links to your work & following it via Legal Informatics – I think your approach is quite sound. Clearly it’s not the case that American public may dive in to technical details of, say, net neutrality legislation. And in my argument above, I do make the case that we can hack together a shorter-term approach before using Congress’ “official” VCS. So I think we’re agreed that at the level we want to see happen, it can happen pretty close with existing technology. But I want to be sure that if a technical specification on net neutrality is needed, that a public-benefit expert from PK or other can specify it, and the public can indeed endorse that specific technical language, so it doesn’t get watered-down by lawyers. That may be an edge case; general principles may capture the outcome we seek over 80% of the time. Great work on your LegixInfo project: http://legixinfo.wordpress.com. Thanks.

drm 06/05/2012 6:51pm

How about flipping the script: given Rep. Issa’s #FreeTHOMAS amendment today, will any gov’t officials or LoC staffers or THOMAS technologists email me to support the #opengovdata amendment? Only on this specific bulk-data question, of course. No answer as of this writing to my previous challenge, as expected. Lack of public discourse around this pressing need.

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drm 01/10/2012 10:21pm

Definitely, it’s a big world out there. We’ll be covering more issues as best we can. Visitors can always find major bills by issue area to research & share, and lots more on the relatively-massive OC database.

drm 12/08/2011 9:46pm

Following this discussion – & the Reddit comment thread – and our Chartbeat account.

OpenCongress is a free, libre & open-source project of our 501©(3) non-profit, the Participatory Politics Foundation. Currently we have 2500 active visitors, and today (as of this writing) we’ve served over 125,000 pageviews. Remarkably, one-third of those were this blog post. But so far today we’ve only received two (much-appreciated!) donations totaling $30.

Our Blog covers Congress in real-world language every day, repping radical transparency, for meaningful public accountability. Please give a tax-exempt donation to support our not-for-profit, free-software work. For more info about our public-service mission, please see our non-profit funding prospectus. PPF is a proud member of the “geek lobby” coalition to stop #SOPA

drm 12/08/2011 7:58pm

Good question, I’ll make sure Donny takes a look – he’s done more research on this than I have by far.

Psyched to have you here, visitors from Reddit – we follow your comment threads closely on bills – just a reminder, this summer OpenCongress launched a free & open-source way to email all three of your members of Congress about a bill. Announcement- w/ screenshots – in the case of #s1867, if you go to write-your-reps, you’ll have handy access to info such as, “Sen. Gillibrand, your most-recent roll call vote on this bill was ‘Aye’” or “98% of users on OpenCongress.org oppose S.1867.” or “Sen. Gillibrand, campaign contribution data shows that you received $32,750 in the 2010 election cycle from the misc issues industry, which is relevant to this bill and its issue areas.” Try it out!

drm 12/08/2011 5:50pm

Aloha visitors from Reddit, hope this was helpful & of interest. (We’re also part of the coalition behind stop #SOPA & other #netfreedom campaigns.) Feel free to leave questions here for Donny. Check the official legislative actions, our aggregated news & blog coverage, public comment forum, and email-your-members-of-Congress using our unique (free & open-source & not-for-profit) message builder.

drm 11/10/2011 12:35pm

The Participatory Politics Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit, is proud to be listed as a “supporting organization”:
http://fairelectionsnow.org/supporters on FairElectionsNow.org – which also includes details of how the bill would work and a long list of its many diverse supporting organizations.

This bill’s current status is that it was referred to the House Administration Committee, which is chaired by Rep. Dan Lungren [R, CA-03], full membership here. Contact these reps using OC and encourage them to take up h.r. 1404 — and be certain in your letters to reference the money trail behind the bill.

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drm 10/31/2011 3:42pm

Great interview, Donny, and thanks to On the Media and the vital national public resource NPR for having the conversation & inviting you. Quick addition, this is worthy of a longer blog post… but as a placeholder here, the point is made that committees & sub-committees debate policy regularly. This is true, and specialization of this sort is perfectly compatible w/ an open & deliberative legislative process, we believe. Similarly, private conversations are both fine & un-regulate-able, so to speak. But this preposterously anti-democratic SuperCommittee has far, far more authority & scope in its recommendations re: taxing & spending than a typical committee. “Background”: http://www.opencongress.org/blog/supercommittee. So it follows that such high stakes, high $$ work should be subject to radical public transparency & default to openness. PPF doesn’t endorse the premise of a SuperCommittee to begin with, but as it exists, the most stringent version control oversight is needed.

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drm 07/30/2011 11:52am

Good question Blindmikey — the short answer is that it’s because of parliamentary procedure. The Boehner debt ceiling language in the House proceeded as an amendment to this Senate bill.

More detailed explanation here of the debt ceiling legislation ::


… Congress in general here ::


… in sum, our federal legislators don’t exactly make the process of following public policy as easy as it could be. We endorse the following reforms, as a start towards more comprehensive electoral reforms ::



drm 07/28/2011 12:47pm

Anything you like — we especially encourage your five-digit zip code and zip plus four, so that you can connect with other constituents in MyOC Groups for your state & Congressional district. You can choose to show your chosen email address, if you like, so other MyOC Friends in your area can email you. But it’s not required, and the privacy options can be adjusted anytime from your profile page. Questions? writeus at opencongress dot org.

drm 07/24/2011 5:43pm

Thanks for the note. Good to notice it, but all is correct, to the best of our knowledge. The specific vote was “On the Motion to Table (Motion to Table the Motion to Proceed to Consider H.R. 2560)”, so it is conceivable that the Dems voted in favor of tabling the bill. The data is consistent with the roll call info on GovTrack, our data partner. Send an email to donny at opencongress dot org if you’d like to confirm this interpretation. Thanks for using OC, bthockey.

drm 02/01/2011 9:23am

Let me add my thanks to the users mentioned above for their help finding photos. Much appreciated! It’s all now available for the public benefit on the open Web.

drm 01/21/2011 4:49pm

For more info on systemic corruption, please see :: http://www.fixcongressfirst.org/ and http://www.openculture.com/2010/01/lessig_on_political_corruption_in_america.html . Thanks.

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drm 01/06/2011 5:43am

Hi LucasFoxx – yep, official gov’t info on OC comes from THOMAS (the primary source) via GovTrack (our data partner, an independent project that makes the data easier to parse). More about our data sources here ::


… the details of why the free legislative data provided by GovTrack is easier to work with for our data aggregation purposes are, as one would expect, a bit technical, so for now I’ll refer you to our open-source code ::


… and invite you to ask questions in more detail, if you like, in IRC, irc.freenode.net #opencongress, or by emailing me at david att opencongress d00t org. As always, our ultimate goal is to ensure full compliance by the Library of Congress and other primary sources with the Principles of OpenGovData ::


drm 10/12/2010 4:59am

@royloansman — good question. Well the list of PdF conference speakers in Europe did feature some folks from France ::


… and speaking for PPF, besides being glad to be part of an international transparency community, we hope to do more in France and other countries all over the world (not only Western Europe) in the near future ::


… I should mention that the work of the terrific UK-based MySociety has always been a foundational inspiration to PPF, and in some ways they are the progenitors of OpenCongress, worth checking out ::


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drm 01/13/2008 8:46pm

Actually, this bill has a ton of overlooked funding attached. The Congressional Budget Office released a report on it recently ::


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drm’s Supported Bills

No supported bills yet.

drm’s Opposed Bills

Bill Status Last Action
H.R.3261 Stop Online Piracy Act (112th congress) Introduced Dec 16, 2011
S.968 PIPA (112th congress) Introduced Jan 23, 2012