may be the best website outside of for locating federal government information. It has drafts of bills, final versions of laws, legislation tracking, committee reports, treaties, presidential nominations information, legislator profiles, and more. How do you know if you are looking at the most current information, or if the older information you are looking for is available on the site?

Fortunately, there is a tool to help you answer that question: the Coverage Dates for Collections page. The coverage page is available in the Help Center under the Collections menu. The Coverage Dates page tells you the start year for collections of documents and data and when the newest information is added. Hyperlinked footnotes provide extra detail. For example, the profile information for members of Congress begins in 1973 and is updated at approximately 8 a.m. The footnote stays that profile information “[I]ncludes Members from 1929 (71st Congress) to 1972 (92nd Congress) who were serving still in 1973 (93rd Congress).”

Screenshot of the Coverage Dates for Collections page

The start date for collections varies widely, with some information going back as far as 1799, but most collections begin between the 1970s and the 1990s. Several collections start as late as the 2010s, such as the Executive and Other Communications of the House (2015) and Senate Committee Meetings (2019).

Checking coverage is essential when you’re looking for the most up-to-date information or older information that is not widely available. On Lexis and Westlaw, you can review the coverage of the database or treatise you are using by clicking on the circle with a lower-case “i” inside.