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1 Author(s)
Weingarten, F.W. ; Comput. Res. Assoc., USA

In January, Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich unveiled "Thomas," the new Internet access point to congressional information (http://thomas.loc.gov). The plan is for Thomas to give citizens access to the full text of legislative bills and to the congressional record, among other things. There are nits to pick, of course: While Thomas shows how easily people can electronically access legislative information, the Web page also exemplifies the enormous gulf that separates the government as provider, from citizens as consumers, of information. Few people have the motivation, time, or expertise to read full-text bills or the congressional record. (Congressional information output quickly fills thousands of pages per day with results of House and Senate deliberations; countless hearings; legislative and investigative committee reports; and agency studies and reports.) The essential question is, to what extent should-and can-government try to bridge the gap between its ability to provide information and people's ability to consume it? Even for those individuals who stand four-square in favour of openness and access, the answer is neither easy nor obvious

Published in:

Computer  (Volume:28 ,  Issue: 5 )