Using plagiarism detection methods to trace the origins of the Affordable Care Act

John Wilkerson (Professor, CAPPP Director), Nicholas Stramp (Graduate Fellow), and David Smith (Assistant Professor,¬†College of Computer and Information Science,¬†Northeastern University) are using computer science text reuse methods commonly used to match genetic sequences or to detect plagiarism to follow policy ideas through the legislative process. One of the cases they’ve examined was the Affordable Care Act. The bill (HR 3590) was 7 pages long until it was amended on the Senate floor to become a 900 page bill. Our project compared the text of the ACA to thousands of other bills introduced in the 111th Congress. In so doing we were able to identify where many of the law’s provisions originated. This work ws featured in The Washington Post blog. and as a Daily Chart by The Economist.

Tegrity recording of  UW eScience presentation (February 26, 2014)