The U.S. House of Representatives has constructed a gopher site that serves as a directory of its organizational structure, a reporting service of House and Senate actions, a visitor's guide, and an educational resource for political and governmental study.
The U.S. House Gopher, under Congressional Information, contains a wealth of information regarding the operations of the House. Included are an instructive report of how laws are made, the FY 1995 budget as proposed by the President, and email addresses of participating members and committees.
Access to other Gophers focusing on governmental and public policy information is offered through a pointer to Sunsite UNC. This completes the package nicely as this site has an excellent menu of Presidential and Judicial Branch information including White House Papers, photographs, Gore's Reinventing Government project, Supreme Court decisions, and a directory of U.S. Federal Judges.
By far the richest folder under Congressional Information is Legislative Resources. A pointer to the House WAIS server and its full text of House Bills leads to four university gopher sites with bill texts of the 103rd Congress. The alternative to the House Bills folder for access to the full text of bills is to go to the House WAIS server directly (if you have a WAIS client) via diamond.house.gov, port 210 to the source file USHOUSE_house_bill_text_103rd.src.
House Committee schedules are maintained on an hourly basis and there are daily updates of the weekly House Floor schedule. The House Floor and Committee actions are listed for the last three legislative days. The drawback is that Committee actions taken during recess are excluded since it is updated only when Congress is in session. Senate Committee actions are included as well, but the Senate Floor actions folder is empty at this time.
The House Committee Information pointer is incomplete as only five committees have established folders. The Energy and Commerce Committee has a comprehensive offering of its history, its membership, jurisdiction, and recent actions.
The House Directories list committees and House members by state and list district, party, office, and phone. House Member Information offers more in depth information, but few members are represented.
The U.S. House Gopher is rounded out with a pointer to standard Internet resources and with Visitor Information complete with maps and weather information.
The House Internet Working Group has done a superior job in building and maintaining this resource to serve both House staff and constituents. The structure of the House Gopher is friendly and concise. The initial "about" text files offer clear and thorough explanations about each main menu item. These are particularly helpful for those who wish to more fully explore the resources. Overall this Gopher is a comprehensive, current source for public policy and political science researchers.
Inga H. Barnello
Social Sciences Reference Librarian
Le Moyne College Library
August 20, 1994