We have spent a great deal of time covering US President Barack Obama's Web presence, from the Democrat's social media strategies to whitehouse.gov. So when the Republicans in the US Congress released a new version of their site - complete with RSS feeds and an API - we felt it only appropriate to give the site a bi-partisan once over. And while the site has received an obvious facelift, it's the underlying functionality - and access to information - that drew our attention.

It's no secret that we here at ReadWriteWeb love RSS. And in that regard, the GOP.gov has a great deal from which to choose. The site offers access to more than 35 separate topics via RSS feeds. The topics range from "Bills" to the "War on Terror."

Unfortunately, a number of the feeds were throwing errors as of this writing, due to stray ampersands or other issues. But those errors will be resolved. So, if you're interested in tracking what's happening, we've compiled a Yahoo! Pipes amalgamation of all of GOP.gov feeds.

Also of interest is the new GOP.gov API, which allows users to access information on legislation directly from the site.

"The GOP.gov API (Application Programming Interface) makes it possible for you to receive data from GOP.gov using HTTP POST calls. There are many situations where this could be useful, including posting information on blogs, websites, software applications and other government webpages."

It will be interesting to see how people begin to leverage this access point. Suffice it to say, the potential for interesting mashups using this data is huge. And those mashups could give us an entirely different way of visualizing the US government at work. Sunlight Labs has taken the opportunity to test drive the API, and they offer some early findings.

Errors aside, the accessibility afforded by the new GOP.gov marks another momentous step forward for the US government in allowing citizens to access information - in near real-time - about the inner workings of the Federal machine. And every step in that direction brings us closer to realizing the true transparency in which the ideals of democracy reside.