Campus Notebook: Government, Online

Posted February 4, 2009 at 6:18pm

Staffers can now search and view Congressional documents online, all in one place.

[IMGCAP(1)]On Wednesday, the Government Printing Office launched the Federal Digital System, an online archive of a slew of federal documents — from bills and laws to the Congressional Record.

After working on the system for four years, the agency hopes it will make the documents more easily accessible to the public.

In the past, anyone looking for such records would have to look in multiple locations, such as the Library of Congress’ THOMAS or libraries linked to the GPO.

But the new Web site, fdsys.gpo.gov, allows users to browse through a variety of documents dating back to 1993. They can also search by keyword, committee, Member and date, among other things.

So far, the system has 154,000 documents. More will be added each day, and the system will soon replace GPO Access, a Web site that includes federal documents but doesn’t have the same search capabilities.

“FDsys will not only provide transparency to our government, but forever change how we maintain and manage government information,” Public Printer Robert Tapella said in a press release.

Eighth Time’s the Charm. D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) has re-introduced a bill to eliminate Congressional review of D.C. laws, just a couple of weeks after introducing her bill to give the city a voting seat in the House.

Under the District of Columbia Home Rule Act, Congress can strike down any District law within 60 legislative days of its passage if both chambers pass a joint resolution and the president signs it.

In practice, Members of Congress rarely tinker with the laws passed by the D.C. Council.

But they have the ability to do so, and every so often they use their power to delay controversial laws. In 2007, for example, Senators temporarily held up Mayor Adrian Fenty’s school takeover plan.

Norton has argued that the process creates an unnecessary headache for city leaders, who sometimes have to wait months for a new bill to become law.

But Members have so far been unwilling to give up control: This will be Norton’s eighth bill on the subject.

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