Remember the Schoolhouse Rock song about how a bill becomes a law in the US?
If you don’t, see: Schoolhouse Rock- How a Bill Becomes a Law.
That level of understanding the legislative process is found in: Stream Congress: A real-time data stream for Congress
From the website:
Once Congress gets back to work, Stream Congress will serve as a good example of what the Real Time Congress API provides: floor updates, bill status, floor votes, committee hearing notices, and much more.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Sunlight Labs.
They have the potential to alter the political landscape.
But not with this understanding of how laws are made in the US.
Members of Congress write bills? Really? You really think that?
Have you ever met a member of Congress? Either house?
Let’s start by naming when a bill is proposed, the staffers, lobbyists, administration representatives, who wrote the bill.
The actual bill authors.
They have goals, friends, etc., that are being furthered by the bills they write (which are passed unread by most members of Congress).
Include who is paying the actual bill authors as well and their sources of funding.
Run that backwards into other legislative sessions. So we can follow patterns of money and ideology that shapes legislation before it ever gets proposed.
Then match up people interested in the bill with financial contributions to members of Congress. And the financial or other interest they have in the bill’s outcome.
We have the capacity to name names and make government truly transparent.
But only if we shine light on the actual process.
Topic maps can help with that.
PS: Transparency would require far more than these off-hand suggestions and would not be cheap. Inquiries welcome.