On Monday, the White House announced the official launch of the XML version of the Federal Register (FR), now available from 2000 to the present through GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys), the Federal Register Web site and Data.gov. Access to the XML will allow third parties to manipulate the government data in innovative ways, and we applaud the White House, the Government Printing Office and the National Archives and Records Administration’s Office of the Federal Register (OFR) for making this exciting development possible.
There are important distinctions between the XML versions available on FDsys and Data.gov. Data.gov is limited to full-year XML downloads, while FDsys offers the ability to quickly and easily download the Federal Register by day, month or year. By providing these options, FDsys may better fit user needs.
In addition, FDsys also provides access to the official, digitally signed PDF version of the Federal Register, in addition to the XML.
We were pleased to see that a new disclaimer has been added to the description for all of the FR datasets and tools on Data.gov explaining this important distinction:
The current XML data set is not yet an official format of the Federal Register. Only the PDF and Text versions have legal status as parts of the official online format of the Federal Register. The XML-structured files are derived from SGML-tagged data and printing codes, which may produce anomalies in display. In addition, the XML data does not yet include image files. Users who require a higher level of assurance may wish to consult the official version of the Federal Register on FDsys.gov. The FDsys data set includes digitally signed Federal Register PDF files, which may be relied upon as evidence in a court of law. See: http://www.fdsys.gov/fdsys/browse/collection.action?collectionCode=FR
AALL has worked closely with GPO for many years to ensure that the public has permanent access to official, authentic online legal information, and we have strongly supported the development of FDsys. We applaud GPO for its leadership in authenticating the online version.
[Posted by Mary Alice Baish and Emily Feldman]