Google Issues a Call For Legislative Transparency

    June 15, 2012

Google has issued a statement announcing that it believes public policy should be based on sound data analysis. Seth Webb, a senior policy manager for Google, stated that Google takes transparency seriously, and that it also believes citizens can be more active in politics when more data is made public. Webb announced Google’s transparency stance in a post on the Google Public Policy Blog:

Last year, for example, the U.S. House of Representatives identified transparency as one of its top priorities, and since then it has taken several steps towards becoming more open. The House now streams and archives video of committee hearings, and it shares draft legislation for public consultation online.

As part of its ongoing effort to promote openness and transparency, the House of Representatives voted for an appropriations bill that directs a task force to examine and expedite the process of disclosing large amounts of legislative data to the public. Even before the bill was passed, Congressional leadership issued a statement on the importance of transparency and requested for the task force to begin its work immediately.

Google is promoting the ability for bulk legislative data to be provided in formats such as XML, so that websites and apps can parse it and provide up-to-date information on legislation. Also, it hopes that researchers will be able to analyze the data for research purposes.

Webb praised earlier initiatives to open government data, such as President Obama’s recently issued Digital Government Strategy, which called for executive branch offices to open up more of their data and for more deployment of mobile technology that will allow citizens to access government data at all times. Alongside this praise, Webb also stated that Google looks forward to even more increased legislative transparency in the future.