The Honorable Davita Vance-Cooks Public Printer of the United States Government Printing Office 732 North

Capitol Street, NW Washington, DC 20401 September 17, 2013 Dear Ms. Vance-Cooks: Congratulations on your confirmation as the 27th Public Printer of the United States. We are looking forward to your continued leadership of the Government Printing Office as it pursues its mission of keeping America informed. September 17 marks the 226th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution. That historic document, as interpreted by the courts over the last two centuries, is the bedrock of our representative democracy. The Government Printing Office is charged with the printing and electronic dissemination of a legal treatise that explains the Constitution in light of U.S. Supreme Court decisions. The Constitution Annotated (CONAN) is an invaluable resource for students, scholars, and others interested in learning how the U.S. Supreme Court interprets our nation's governing document. Organized to explain the constitution clause by clause, the document has been continuously published for 100 years and contains analysis of nearly 8,000 Supreme Court cases. GPO is responsible for printing a once-a-decade new edition of CONAN, as well as biannual “pocket-part” updates. However, the document itself is regularly updated outside of this cycle. In November 2010, the Joint Committee on Printing directed GPO to begin publishing “updates online as soon as they are prepared, rather than waiting to coincide with the two-year print cycle.”1 More than a thousand days have elapsed since that directive was issued. This is a matter of public importance. The Joint Committee on Printing described CONAN as “essential to understanding our laws and legislative history.” On September 17, 2010, more than twenty organizations and individuals urged “that the legal treatise Constitution Annotated be published online in XML format each time it is updated.”2 Former Senator Feingold wrote a letter to that effect in October 2009,3 as did the Sunlight Foundation on September 17, 2009.4 We are writing to reiterate these requests. We applaud the Government Printing Office for its release of the Constitution Annotated today as downloadable PDF files and an iPhone app, as well as your commitment to update the document throughout the year. 5 However, this implementation still does not allow readers to efficiently search, navigate, and electronically transform the text. The iPhone implementation fails to make use of the advantages that platform provides, with a resulting app that is difficult to read and hard to navigate. The
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See http://www.scribd.com/doc/48672433/Constitution-Annotated-Congressional-Record-and-Statutes-at-Large See assets.sunlightfoundation.com.s3.amazonaws.com/policy/papers/Constitution%20Annotated%209-17-2010.pdf 3 See http://issuu.com/johnwonderlich/docs/constitution_annotated_letter_to_gpo 4 See http://www.scribd.com/doc/19847259/Constitution-Annotated-Letter 5 See http://gpo.gov/newsroom-media/presspage/13presspage38
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webpage containing downloadable PDF files6 similarly fails to take advantage of the benefits of internet publication. Troublingly, re-publishers of CONAN that traditionally have made the treatise available in user-friendly formats, such as Cornell’s Legal Information Institute,7 will have to undertake significant effort to transform the PDFs into useful formats, particularly as the underlying data is no longer published as structured data.8 Publishing updates in a machine readable electronic format as they are prepared will help the public realize the full benefits of up-to-date access to the Constitution Annotated. While we are pleased that GPO and the Library of Congress collaborated “on the development of a new process for updating the digital edition of the Constitution Annotated,”9 in the future, it would be wise to meet with likely users and re-publishers of the information. Particularly in light of the anticipated release of an Android app, we welcome the opportunity to discuss the issue further. Please contact Daniel Schuman Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington at dschuman@citizensforethics.org or 202-408-5565 or Matt Rumsey at the Sunlight Foundation at 202-742-1520 or mrumsey@sunlightfoundation.com. With best regards, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington J. Bradley Jansen, Center for Financial Privacy and Human Rights Jerry Goldman, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law Josh Tauberer, GovTrack.us Seamus Kraft, OpenGov Foundation Sunlight Foundation Tim Stanley, Justia

cc: The Honorable Chuck Schumer, Chair, Senate Rules Committee, Chair, Joint Committee on Printing The Honorable Gregg Harper, Chair, Vice-Chair, Joint Committee on Printing The Honorable Candice Miller, Chair, Committee on House Administration The Honorable Robert Brady, Ranking Member, Committee on House Administration The Honorable Pat Roberts, Ranking Member, Senate Rules Committee

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See http://beta.congress.gov/constitution-annotated/ See http://www.law.cornell.edu/anncon/ 8 The Constitution Annotated is no longer available as txt files and is not being published in other formats such as XML. 9 See http://www.gpo.gov/pdfs/congressional/Budget_Justification_FY2014.pdf page A2

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