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TUCoPS :: Cyber Law :: a_legis.txt

From CPSR: Campaign for public access to Congress' LEGIS system




From: James P Love <LOVE@pucc.Princeton.EDU>
Subject:      ONLINE ACCESS TO CONGRESSIONAL INFORMATION
To: Multiple recipients of list CPSR <CPSR%GWUVM.BITNET@pucc.Princeton.EDU>

----------------------------Original message----------------------------
                     Information Access Memorandum


To:     Citizens interested in public access to government
        information

Re:     Public Access to U.S. House and Senate Legislative
        Information Systems (LEGIS)

Date:   July 21, 1992


Dear friend:

The following letter to Senator Ford (D-KY) and Representative
Rose (D-NC) asks for public access to the House and Senate LEGIS
systems.  LEGIS provides online access to the full text of bills
before congress, as well as other items.  Access is now
restricted to members of congress and their staff.  (except for
limited walk-in service).

If you want to join us in asking for remote online access to this
important taxpayer funded information system, please provide us
with the following information, along with permission to add your
name to the letter.

Name
Affiliation
  (for purposes of
  identification only)
Address
City, State and Zip Code
Telephone (for verification)
email address

Please send (mail, fax, or email) this information to:

Taxpayer Assets Project
P.O. Box 19367
Washington, DC  20036
voice:202/387-8030
fax:202/234-5176
internettap@essential.org

Thank you.

James Love
Director
Taxpayer Assets Project

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Senator Ford
Chairman, Senate Committee
  on Rules and Administration
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC  20510

Representative Rose
Chairman, Committee on
  House Administration
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC  20515

August XX, 1992

RE:  Public Access to Senate and House LEGIS


Dear Sirs:

This letter is to request that the public be granted access to the
Legislative Information Systems operated by the United States Senate and
House of Representatives.  These taxpayer financed information systems
provide online access to information of immense interest to millions of
citizens.  (For purposes of this letter the two systems will be referred
to simply as LEGIS).

Examples of the information contained in LEGIS are:

-       Summary information about the content and status of all
        Senate and House bills, resolutions, floor amendments,
        public and private laws

-       Full text of the latest versions of Senate and House bills

-       Summary information on all Presidential nominations
        requiring Senate confirmation

-       Summary information on treaties submitted to the Senate for
        ratification

-       Summary information on communications from the executive
        branch and state and local governments on matters before the
        Congress

Our specific recommendations are as follows:


1.      CITIZENS SHOULD BE ABLE TO SEARCH LEGIS ONLINE FROM REMOTE
        LOCATIONS.

While the public pays for the operation of LEGIS we have never
been allowed access, except for limited walk-in access in
Congressional reading rooms.  This policy should change.  In a
period when Congress is seeking to reform itself, it is
appropriate to extend access to these valuable information
systems beyond the members and staff of congress, to the citizens
whom they serve.


2.      PUBLIC ACCESS TO LEGIS SHOULD BE MODELED ON THE PROPOSED GPO
        GATEWAY TO GOVERNMENT/WINDO LEGISLATION.

As sponsors of S. 2813, the GPO Gateway to Government, and H.R.
2772, the GPO Wide Information Network for Data Online (WINDO),
you have worked hard to expand public access to federal
databases.  Should the Gateway/WINDO become law, LEGIS should be
among its initial core databases.  In any event, the approach
taken in these two bills is appropriate for LEGIS.

-       The public should have the right to subscribe to online
        access to LEGIS from remote locations.  For most
        subscribers, the cost of the subscription should be based on
        the incremental cost of providing such access.

-       LEGIS information should also be made available without
        charge through the federal Depository Library Program.  As
        you know, this important program, which began in the middle
        of the 19th century, is designed to promote universal access
        to federal government information.

3.      CONGRESS SHOULD REGULARLY SOLICIT FEEDBACK FROM LEGIS USERS
        TO DETERMINE IF THE SYSTEM CAN BE IMPROVED.

There are several areas where LEGIS could be improved.  For
example, some citizens may ask that Congress provide more
detailed information on voting, committee actions, or other
congressional business.  Citizens should have opportunities to
identify the types of information that would be useful in
monitoring the actions of the Congress.

Your support for the Gateway/WINDO bills is deeply appreciated,
as are your other efforts to broaden public access to databases
and information systems that are financed by the taxpayer.
Please inform us of the specific steps that you will take to
broaden public access to LEGIS.  Thank you.


Sincerely,


-----------------------------------------------------------------
The following persons will be among those signing the letter
asking for public access to LEGIS:


Joan Claybrook                          Howard C. Weaver
President                               Editor
Public Citizen                          Anchorage Daily News
2000 P Street, NW                       Box 149001
Washington, DC  20036                   Anchorage, Alaska 99514-9001

Brian Kahin                             Jack D. Lail
Director, Information                   Metro Editor
Infrastructure Project,                 Knoxville News-Sentinel
Science, Technology and                 P.O. Box 59038
Public Policy Program                   Knoxville, TN 37950-9038
John F. Kennedy School of
Government, Harvard University          Marc Rotenberg
79 John F. Kennedy St.                  Director, Washington Office
Cambridge, MA  02138                    Computer Professionals for
                                        Social Responsibility
Professor James Galbraith               666 Pennsylvania Ave., S.E.
LBJ School of Public Affairs            Suite 303
and Department of Government            Washington, DC 20003
University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX                              James Love
                                        Director
Howard Rheingold                        Taxpayer Assets Project
Editor                                  P.O. Box 19367
Whole Earth Review                      Washington, DC  20036
27 Gate Five Road
Sausalito, CA 94965                     Dr. James R. Veatch
hlr@well.sf.ca.us                       Nashville Tech Library
                                        120 White Bridge Road
                                        Nashville, TN 37209-4515

-----------------------------------------------------------------
James Love, Director               VOICE:    609-683-0534
Taxpayer Assets Project            FAX:      202-234-5176
P.O. Box 19367                     INTERNET: love@essential.org
Washington, DC 20036





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