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An Effort to Define the Ideal “Law.gov”

2009 October 16
by recapthelaw

A group of academics has been convened by Public.Resource.Org in order to define recommendations for a proposed federal government site: law.gov. The group will study the feasibility of creating the equivalent of a data.gov for legal materials. The process will define a concrete path forward forward for the government. Specifically, it will deliver:

  • Detailed technical specifications for markup, authentication, bulk access, and other aspects of a distributed registry.
  • A bill of lading defining which materials should be made available on the system.
  • A detailed business plan and budget for the organization in the government running the new system.
  • Sample enabling legislation.
  • An economic impact statement detailing the effect on federal spending and economic activity.
  • Procedures for auditing materials on the system to ensure authenticity.

Ed Felten, Executive Director of Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy (which also produced RECAP), is one of the co-conveners.

5 Responses leave one →
  1. October 19, 2009

    A detailed business plan and budget for the organization in the government running the new system.

    Will this project also outline a proposed detailed budget of the federal courts IT requirements?

    Getting the Judicial Conference away from ‘bait and switch’ accounting and appropriations to a direct Congressional appropriation of a legitimate IT budget would open up PACER. It seems such would interest Senator Lieberman as indicated by the Senator’s, again stated position, in his 13 October 2009 letter to Malamud:

    The Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system, still charges $.08 a page for access., despite a mandate in the E, Government Act to move to a system where this information would be freely available to the greatest extent possible.

  2. tech guy permalink
    December 21, 2009

    wondering why only academia is in charge of defining recommendations for the judicial branch?

  3. steve permalink
    February 6, 2010

    @tech guy: It’s not limited to academics, but they were the first natural group to get involved — law librarians in particular. The convenings are open to everyone, and could certainly benefit from even more involvement from the tech community.

  4. Just Wondering? permalink
    February 19, 2010

    I thought the 8 cent page/$2.40 max fees were used to pay for the PACER and E-filing systems. These systems appear to be self-funded now. Without fees, who will pay to continue maintenance and upgrades of these systems?

  5. Steve Schultze permalink
    February 19, 2010

    @Just Wondering?
    See my working paper here explaining how the funds are actually spent:
    http://managingmiracles.blogspot.com/2009/09/my-new-working-paper-on-pacer.html

    Once you determine the actual cost of running the system then, yes, you still need to figure out how to fund it. The actual cost appears to be a fraction of the claimed cost. There is a variety of options that includes filing fees and congressional appropriations.

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