Friday, November 14, 2008

DC Council: "I Want to Tear Off Your LIMS!"

This is not a threat of violence, but a reference to the D.C. Council's Legislative Information Management System, aka "LIMS."

LIMS is what citizens use to pull up legislation being considered by the council and check its status. Now, maybe it's because I am a lawyer and policy wonk who has every state legislature's bill tracking website hotlinked at work, but I think transparency and knowing what the heck they are passing in the Wilson Building that will impact our lives for better or worse is of particular concern. But the old DC Council website was probably the worst in the country. Good luck finding out where legislation stands, who amended what, and what is becoming law.

So I was excited to hear that the Council was finally working on bringing their website out of the year that Al Gore invented the internet. When the new website came online a few weeks ago, I was pleased. Then again, the website had no where to go but up. Today's average fifth grader at a non-failing DC public school could have substantially improved it.

Would the new LIMS actually tell me the accurate current status of the legislation? Would it allow me to pull up any amendments and the vote on each? Might it provide the testimony submitted to the council? Would it alert me to upcoming hearings? Might it even include links to the video of past hearings? Wow.

I click the link. Damn it, same old LIMS. It's back to the future, the best in technology circa 1993.


si said...

That is just frickin ridiculous! I mean honestly why can they not extricate themselves out of the dark ages?

Sturdi said...


As a recent exile from DC, I enjoyed reading your blog. Very nicely done, so please keep up the good work.

A couple of years ago I had a very hard time looking up the penalty for not wearing a motorcycle helmet in DC. As it turned out, the DC library was the official repository of DC law. But that was then, and the helmet law has since changed. Now I can't even use the old method since "everything is on-line now."

I sincerely hope the LIMS will evolve into a useful tool. For now, it's pretty useless. Maybe the DC government is waiting for the elementary school kids to grow up and take over their IT department.


Cary Silverman said...

The DC Code is accessible online at However, any recently enacted legislation would not be reflected on that site for at least a few months.

In addition to the problem with LIMS, I should also mention that most of the D.C. Municipal Regulations (DCMR) are not online or otherwise available either, and what is online is unsearchable junk. Actually, I just checked and the DCMR website doesn't seem to be working at all at the moment:$fn=main-nf.htm&vid=dcmr:free

Some agencies have their regs on their own websites, but many don't.

I don't think it is too much to ask that DC make our laws and regulations accessible, and ensure that they are accountable for their votes.