Government transparency is an important issue to many in today's political environment. The recent controversy in the US over health care reform is just one example of how hard it can be to see the realities behind the rhetoric. As researchers, we believe we can help by giving people the right tools to understand, explore, and communicate about government data.
Inspired by the fantastic people we met and conversations we had at the Center's Transparent Text conference last year, we decided to act. Today, the Visual Communication Lab at the Center launches IBM Many Bills: A Visual Bill Explorer. Many Bills is a web-based visualization that enables members of the public to see the high-level topic structure of US Congressional Bills, then drill down and read the actual content. The dataset currently includes all bills considered by both houses in 2009, plus some select content from 2010, courtesy of GovTrack.