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Omnibus Spending Bill Posted – In Useless Format

The $500 billion omnibus spending bill to fund the most of federal government for the rest of the year will be debated in the House this week. And it has now finally been posted online.

It’s a PDF of scanned pages, meaning it can’t be searched or parsed in any other way. All 1,133 pages of it. Same with the 1,845-page explanatory statement.

That’s placing form over substance, putting a bill online in a useless format.

Visitor Comments for Omnibus Spending Bill Posted – In Useless Format RSS 2.0


You can “parse” it using Adobe’s search feature.

However searches for pork return 0 instances in Division A (USDA etc.) and that can’t be right=)

Jim Harper

I stand partially corrected. These are images of documents, which have typically been unsearchable, but Adobe evidently does a decent job of using optical character recognition to interpret the text, making it searchable. Not so good with the hand-written notes, of course. And you can’t parse it, meaning pulling out the relevant data and making use of it like you could with an html, xml, or other structured-format document.


Well you can search, copy and then paste into Notepad/Word. I plan to make good use of it.

Also, the electronic sense of parse is a bit more complicated than you suggest http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/parse

Omnibus Spending Bill Posted - In Useless Format | Think Tank West

[…] WashingtonWatch.com has the details. […]

Jim Harper

“Parse” is exactly what I mean. If bills were published in structured formats, their meaning could be pulled out and used to better inform the public of what they do before they’re voted on.

This bill will be voted on in the House before anyone can copy the text of the 1,100+ pages and clean it up – much less analyze it.

Unless you’re volunteering. I’ll take a clean plaintext copy of the bill if you can do that. An html version would be great too. And if you can tag each item of spending by agency and subagency that would be really cool.

Glen Hein

So are there any open standards for storing legislative bills in XML?

Glen Hein

Wow! I did a little searching and found http://xml.house.gov/. There is no excuse for the House not using the format they already developed.

Searching the Omnibus | QandO

[…] luck searching through the omnibus spending bill: The $500 billion omnibus spending bill to fund the most of federal government for the rest of the […]

The Omnibus is H.R. 1105 - The WashingtonWatch.com Blog

[…] Omnibus Spending Bill Posted – In Useless Format […]

David Bearman

I had no difficulty saving these in txt, as Word files etc. – though they produce some OCR errors. Frankly, it doesn’t make them a lot easier reading:-(

Randy Parks

Just another form/way of creating disinformation for our public… If their work is so valuable, prove it… follow your own guidelines for formatting bills (http://xml.house.gov/)…. We are not the illiterate majority who founded this nation… I don’t need anyone to interpret for me, do you?

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