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Congress Posts ­.s. Code in Xml

A law book, gavel, and the scales of justice.

The U.S. federal government as published the full 51-title U.S. Code in XML format, to provide access to a taggable, machine-readable version of U.S. law.

Credit: Federal Computer Week

The U.S. House of Representatives has published all 51 titles of the U.S. Code in XML format for download, as part of the its open government initiative, which aims to provide tools for rendering taggable, machine-readable versions of U.S. law.

"Putting U.S. Code into XML doesn't revolutionize the way legislators and citizens interact with the law yet, but it could," says Data Transparency Coalition executive director Hudson Hollister.

Online versions of the code previously were available in unstructured text files.

The move mirrors other developments, such as the Government Printing Office's decision to publish House bills in XML and the release of XML House floor summaries by the Office of the Clerk.

Underlying the release is the U.S. Legislative Markup (USLM) schema, which provides a guide for structuring legislative data. USLM provides a guideline for how the complex organization of federal statues into titles, chapters, articles, sections, and other divisions can be described in XML.

"[USLM] is designed to be adaptable for appendices to titles of the United States Code as well as bills, resolutions, statutes, and certain other legislative materials," according to the documentation. USLM also could lead to a transformation of the methods used to track federal dollars.

From Federal Computer Week
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