Given just how innovative the new Obama administration is in terms of using technology to bring US politics into the 21st century, it’s notable that it’s the Republicans who are the first US party to launch a real open web API. You can now see the new Anywhere API over at the Republicans’ US Congress site: gop.gov/api. As they describe:
The GOP.gov API is part of House Republicans’ commitment to deliver a more open Congress to the people of the United States by facilitating the transmission of information that can be distributed in real time, across any network, to any user.
The GOP.gov API (Application Programming Interface) makes it possible for you to receive data from GOP.gov using HTTP POST calls. There are many situations where this could be useful, including posting information on blogs, websites, software applications and other government webpages.
The API gives you access to 4 classes of data: Member, Committee, Legislative, and Documents. Typical operations include member.get, bill.get, and committee.members. At the moment it doesn’t appear that there are any mashups built with this API, but with apps like the one we wrote about earlier today, it probably won’t be long until we see this API put to use. More good material for the upcoming Transparency Camp later this month.
Technically, in terms of the GOP’s API itself, it’s nearly a RESTful API that returns data as XML. “Nearly RESTful” because for some reason all methods require an HTTP POST rather than GET call, even if just simply querying data. To use it you need an API key which in turn requires a GOP Portfolio account. On the support side, there isn’t much at the moment, you can email questions or comments to the GOP Web Team at GOPWeb@mail.house.gov. Get further details at our new GOP.gov API profile.
We now have 33 government-related APIs listed in our directory and with this new API it appears that we’ll continue to see web services opening-up farther up the political food chain. How long until we have the tech-savvy team over at whitehouse.gov get their API launched? And of course it’s unlikely the Congressional Democrats will sit by and not open-up their own API, and then we still have the Senate, the judicial branch, and on it goes.