Easy, User-friendly Access to the DC Code Now An Official Website Feature

Some musical acts do whatever they can to prevent bootleg concert recordings. The Grateful Dead, famously, encouraged its fans to record and trade bootlegs of their concerts.

Believe it or not, the Council falls into the latter camp when it comes to technological innovation.  In recent years, the Council has actively supported efforts by “civic hackers” to take our base data and create open source applications that make the information we have to share more easily accessible. Last fall, we made our legislative data available via API.

In what is the longest and most visible Council/hacker collaboration, we assisted efforts to make the DC Code more easily accessible. Previously, the Code had only been available via proprietary services like Lexis-Nexis, or in clunky, research-averse formats like PDFs or Zip files. In 2013, the Council released an unofficial version of the Code so that hackers could go to work on it. Since then, the website dccode.org has made available an easily searchable version of the Code via a user-friendly interface. That site, however, was never official, and updates to the site ceased in 2014.

What has now occurred, to follow the above rock analogy, is that the band has released an official version of the earlier fan bootleg.  What was once dccode.org is now https://beta.code.dccouncil.us

In onboarding this useful service, we are not just making it part of our official website. We are also ensuring that access to the Code is secure, and that the Code site is properly encrypted. Additionally, we are ensuring the site meets Uniform Electronic Legal Materials Act (UELMA) standards, an international framework adopted so that critical digital legal documents are appropriately preserved and authenticated.

The underlying Code the service draws from has also been updated, and now includes changes made from 2014 until February of this year, with an update through June 2016 due imminently.

The site is currently in Beta form, and it is being continuously updated. Future plans include linking non-Code citations that appear within the Code. The oldest such instance refers to the Statute of Gloucester, a 13th Century measure passed by the British Parliament not long after the Magna Carta.

The Council is grateful to our Office of the General Counsel, including the incumbent General Counsel Ellen Efros, her predecessor David Zvenyach, their hardworking staffs, and the civic hackers who have been their partners since this process began.