Press/Journalists

Press Release
December 6, 2011

National Archives Office of the Federal Register and GPO Share Open Government Success Story re: Polar Bears!

Developer community embraces Application Programming Interface for FederalRegister.gov

Washington, DC…What on earth do polar bears have in common with the National Archives Office of the Federal Register and the Government Printing Office? They play a starring role in one of the first applications by the private sector of a new open data tool introduced by both agencies - a tracking system for polar bear protection documents!

In a giant step toward making Government information more open and transparent, the Federal Register and the Government Printing Office introduced in August 2011 an Application Programming Interface (API) for data on the FederalRegister.gov web site. Developers can use this API to create new applications for regulatory information published in the Federal Register. In one of the first applications of the new tool, a researcher in Germany has used the API tool to create a “Polar Bear Feed” – an automatically updated, RSS-syndicated list of Federal Register items mentioning polar bears. The list includes items dated from 1994 to present, displays the items in a formatted list with browsing capabilities, and links back to the full text on FederalRegister.gov. This feed also provides an annual chart of polar-bear-related notices in the Federal Register by year. Created by research scholar Etienne Benson of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, Germany, the “Polar Bear Feed” is online at http:// polarbearfeed.etiennebenson.com. According to the Benson, the feed is useful for, “Environmentalists, animal protectionists, trophy hunters, and others can use the feed to easily keep track U.S. federal government actions relating to polar bears, including the drafting of new rules and regulations and the issuance of permits.”

“We are thrilled to see the use of the API source material to develop this live feed. This is precisely how we hoped this information would be used when we made it available to the public. We couldn't be more gratified,” said Director of the Federal Register Ray Mosley.

“This is another example of how Government Printing Office and the Office of the Federal Register continue to find ways in achieving the goal of making Government information more transparent and giving users the ability to adapt Federal Register data to their own needs,” said Public Printer Bill Boarman.”

The print and online versions of the Federal Register are the official daily publication for rules, proposed rules, and notices of Federal agencies and organizations, as well as executive orders and other Presidential documents.

For more information on Federal Register publications, see www.ofr.gov. For more information about the National Archives, see www.archives.gov.

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For press information, contact the National Archives Public Affairs Staff at (202) 357-5300.

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