Alex Howard of the O’Reilly Radar reports that the newly launched Congress.gov is more responsive, but falls short in terms of linked open data. He writes, “Today, the nation’s repository for its laws launched a new beta website at Congress.gov and announced that it would eventually replace Thomas.gov, the 17-year-old website that represented one of the first significant forays online for Congress. The new website will educate the public looking for information on their mobile devices about the lawmaking process, but it falls short of the full promise of embracing the power of the Internet. (More on that later).”

He goes on, “Tapping into a growing trend in government new media, the new Congress.gov features responsive design, adapting to desktop, tablet or smartphone screens. It’s also search-centric, with Boolean search and, in an acknowledgement that most of its visitors show up looking for information, puts a search field front and center in the interface. The site includes member profiles for U.S. Senators and Representatives, with associated legislative work. In a nod to a mainstay of social media and media websites, the new Congress.gov also has a ‘most viewed bills’ list that lets visitors see at a glance what laws or proposals are gathering interest online. (You can download a fact sheet on all the changes as a PDF).”

Howard notes, “On the one hand, the new Congress.gov is a dramatic update to a site that desperately needed one, particularly in a historic moment where citizens are increasingly connecting to the Internet (and one another) through their mobile devices. On the other hand, the new Congress.gov beta has yet to realize the potential of Congress publishing bulk open legislative data. There is no application programming interface (API) for open government developers to build upon. In many ways, the new Congress.gov replicates what was already available to the public at sites like Govtrack.us and OpenCongress.org.”

Read more here.