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Legislative Tracking for the Common Citizen

http://www.govtrack.us/ is a creative use of freely available government information resources to create something new and potentially valuable, but still free.

If you are interested in the actions of your Representative or Senator, this is the place for you. http://www.govtrack.us/ will send you e-mail alerts or RSS feeds on new votes, floor statements, and new bills a Member of Congress has sponsored. You can also see who contributes to their campaigns.

Bill tracking by e-mail is available also, something you can’t get from THOMAS. You can get alerts by individual bills or legislative subject. Be aware that the bill tracking features will lag behind what is available to those that can pay. Josh Tauberer, creator of govtrack.us is up front about this, “Updates are delayed by several days because the U.S. Government Printing Office often takes several days to post the full information for government bills. GovTrack is generally two days behind in all information.”

govtrack.us draws its information from THOMAS, House and Senate pages, and from the Congressional Budget Office. So, if it’s a little slow, it is authoritative. LLRX.com, a well known legal research site, gave it a positive review.

All of the information on govtrack.us is freely available elsewhere; but no other site I’ve seen pulls it all together so nicely. And its something that wouldn’t have been possibly if privatization advocates had gotten their way back in the 1980s. If we can hold the privitization/classification tide back this time around, who knows what grassroots applications it will bring?

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