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Welcome to Data First, a monthly newsletter covering the modernization of lawmaking

Laws and regulations work best when we draft and manage them as Data First.

In the United States and around the world, governments are modernizing their legislative and regulatory processes by adopting a data-first approach. Once laws and regulations are created and managed as data first – and not as piles of paper or word processing files – new digital tools can make the process of lawmaking more efficient, more error free and more transparent.

“Data first” is where the law- and rule-making world is headed. We’re starting this newsletter to help keep you informed about this transformation, the new technologies involved and, most important, the impact on how laws and regulations are being made around the globe. We’ll tell you about what’s enabled by this transformation, from cost-savings to new insights into the laws and regulations themselves. We’ll keep you in the loop on the latest news, resources and upcoming events,

A quick word about Xcential Legislative Technologies. Since 2002, Xcential’s data-first approach to how laws and regulations are drafted, amended, published and codified has enabled internal electronic efficiency, intergovernmental digital connections, and external data transparency. Our work with governments around the world – from California to Washington D.C., Hong Kong to the U.K. – has given us deep expertise on the smart way to modernize lawmaking. We understand how adopting a data-first approach represents a vital and necessary structural reform. Open data standards for legislative and regulatory documents, enabling tools like Xcential’s LegisPro, make it easier for governments and the people they serve to author, analyze, and use essential documents.

The mission of Data First is to promote collaboration and the open exchange of information among users of standards-enabled legislative and regulatory drafting and comparison tools. We welcome you to the conversation.

If you have any questions about Data First or any feedback, please don't hesitate to reply to this email. We'd love to hear from you!

Mark Stodder


Graphic of Digital Congress

Version Control for Law: Tracking Changes in the U.S. Congress

Version control is invaluable for any complex software project involving team collaboration. When it comes to version control for legislative documents, the main questions to address are relatively straightforward. What was the law? What is the law? But it might surprise you to know that for many laws, particularly those that were recently changed, there is no current official version and no way to see a precise history of amendments over time. 

In the U.S. House of Representatives, Xcential addressed the challenges of version control for the law with three central solutions: machine-readable amendments, machine-readable legal citations, and the creation of a legally-relevant diff.  More ➔

Read the full article

RegTech Spotlight: An Interview with Esper Founder Maleka Momand

This fall, Esper, whose cloud-based solution is used by multiple state governments to manage regulatory rulemaking, won a $9 million regulatory workflow modernization contract through the General Services Administration’s Commercial Solution Offering program. Partnered with Deloitte, Esper will deploy its solution to help the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) organize regulatory materials and conduct rulemaking processes.

HData CEO Hudson Hollister recently interviewed Esper founder Maleka Momand on Esper’s history, the promise of RegTech to make rulemaking more efficient, and the U.S. federal government’s big move toward tech-enabled rulemaking. The following transcript has been lightly edited for length and readability. More ➔

Read the full interview


The International Conference on Legislation and Law Reform
October 21-22, 2021 | Washington, D.C.

National Association of Legislative Technology Virtual Meetings Series
A continuing series of webinars from the National Association of Legislative Technology, replacing NALIT’s in-person gatherings. The sessions feature legislative technology experts from statehouses around the U.S., focusing on current issues from the latest in bill drafting technology to cybersecurity.

RELACS Virtual Meetings Series
RELACS professional association – a wing of the U.S. National Conference of State Legislatures – is presenting a multi-part series of interactive webinars and virtual meetings geared toward legislative staff who conduct research, draft and edit legislation, examine legal issues, and staff legislative committees. A big focus has been on the transition to remote working for legislative drafters, editors and support staff.

Making Laws in a Post-Modern World: Are You Ready?
The 20th Annual Legislative Drafting Conference of the Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice this fall focused on the changing technology of legislative drafting and its impact on lawmaking.

LegisTech for Democracy
Bússola Tech, the legislative technology incubator based in São Paulo, marked the International Day for Democracy by gathering presentations from more than 20 Parliament houses around the world, focusing on the rapid technology and legislative data transformations forced by the Covid pandemic.

The Data Coalition
A busy calendar ahead of webinars and online gatherings focused on government data policy, from regulatory and legislative data standard to best practices for government transparency and reporting.

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