Citizens across America will have a powerful tool to hold their elected leaders accountable come January. The House of Representatives today adopted new standards that increase transparency and improve access to legislative data. All of the information will be publicly available in a searchable format on one website.

“With the adoption of these standards, for the first time, all House bills, resolutions and legislative documents will be available in XML in one centralized location,” said House Administration Chairman Dan Lungren (R-CA). “Providing easy access to legislative information increases constituent feedback and ultimately improves the legislative process.”

The new standards are just the latest of several steps taken by the House this year to increase transparency and openness. They are part of an initiative led by Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA). Boehner was an early supporter of the Sunlight Foundation’s Open House Project in 2007.

The changes adopted this year mark significant progress. Three years ago, under the rule of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), it took an independent effort by a group of transparency-minded conservatives to provide legislative details about economic stimulus bill. At the time, offered more information than was publicly available.

Transparency advocates cheered today’s news. The Sunlight Foundation called it “a tremendous step.” Daniel Schuman wrote, “The Senate could do well by following this example, as could legislative support agencies like the Library of Congress and GPO.”

The new standards take effect on Jan. 1, 2012.

Standards for the Electronic Posting of House and Committee Documents & Data