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IBM Cambridge Research Center

  Technical Report: Many Bills: Engaging Citizens through Visualizations of Congressional Legislation

Many Bills: Engaging Citizens through Visualizations of Congressional Legislation

Technical Report #:11-12
Author(s): Yannick Assogba, Irene Ros, Joan DiMicco, Matt McKeon


A Collaborative User Experience Technical Report: more about CUE...

US federal legislation is a common subject of discussion and advocacy on the web, inspired by the open government movement. While the contents of these bills are freely
available for download, understanding them is a significant challenge to experts and average citizens alike due to their length, complex language, and obscure topics. To make
these important documents more accessible to the general public, we present Many Bills ( a webbased set of visualization tools that reveals the underlying
semantics of a bill. Using machine learning techniques, we classify each bill’s sections based on existing documentlevel categories. We then visualize the resulting topic
substructure of these bills. These visualizations provide an overview-and-detail view of bills, enabling users to read individual sections of a bill and compare topic patterns across multiple bills. Through an overview of the site’s user activity and interviews with active users, this paper highlights how Many Bills makes the tasks of reading bills, identifying outlier sections in bills, and understanding
congressperson’s legislative activity more manageable.

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