The launch of the app comes on the heels of Tuesday’s announcement of a new House website created as part of an ongoing effort to increase transparency. The website will provide all legislation to be considered by the House in XML, an open, machine-readable format.
Last April, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) directed House Clerk Karen Haas to work with the Committee on House Administration to establish electronic data standards for the House to make information more easily accessible to the public.
In an effort to cut down on unnecessary printing, one month later the GPO initiated a survey of lawmakers’ offices to see how many would be willing to cease receiving paper copies of the Congressional Record and Federal Register, among other congressional publications.
Last May, Committee on House Administration Chairman Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) and Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.), chairman of the Administration subcommittee on Oversight, circulated a “Dear Colleague” letter encouraging lawmakers to opt out of receiving the paper publications.
“It costs taxpayers approximately $1,300,000 from the Congressional Printing and Binding fund to print the daily and permanent editions of Congressional and Federal publications for Member offices each year,” according to the notice.
On Wednesday, Lungren praised the creation of the iPad application and Congress’s ongoing efforts to improve access to legislative data.
“The Congressional Record — the official record of our nation’s legislative endeavors — is vital to legislators doing their job and to the public holding them accountable,” he wrote in a statement. “I commend the Library of Congress and the Government Printing Office for their dedication to creating this app.”
Librarian of Congress James Billington said “access to the Record on tablet devices will provide portability for Members of Congress as well as the public, and allow for searching, saving and sharing content from the Record.”
"The Library of Congress is pleased to develop a new way to receive authoritative and convenient access to the debates, proceedings and activities of the Nation’s legislature,” he added in a statement.