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Free Government Information (FGI) is a place for initiating dialogue and building consensus among the various players (libraries, government agencies, non-profit organizations, researchers, journalists, etc.) who have a stake in the preservation of and perpetual free access to government information. FGI promotes free government information through collaboration, education, advocacy and research.

Open States now available for all 50 states. Thanks @sunfoundation

The Sunlight Foundation has just released Open States for all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The site helps the public find their state legislators, review their votes, search upcoming legislation, and track bill progress. Open States gets their Bill, legislator, committee and event data from official sources, linked at the bottom of each legislator, bill, vote, committee or event page. Check out their methodology for more. They rely primarily on scraping data from sites. Wouldn’t it be awesome of all state legislatures had bulk data feeds so that 1000 sites like Open States could bloom? Join the Webinar on February 22nd to learn more about Open States.

After more than four years of work from volunteers and a full-time team here at Sunlight we’re immensely proud to launch the full Open States site with searchable legislative data for all 50 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico. Open States is the only comprehensive database of activities from all state capitols that makes it easy to find your state lawmaker, review their votes, search for legislation, track bills and much more.

If you’re interested in your state lawmaker, you’ll be able to get notifications for their actions, a map of their district, voting records, committee assignments, campaign finance records from Influence Explorer, local news articles and contact information. If you’re curious about a particular piece of legislation, Open States allows you to check on its status, find the sponsors, break down votes, view bill text and all supporting documents. Our powerful search capabilities allow you to find similar topics across states and view overview pages for each state, chamber and committee.

Sunlight provides databases of government information to university libraries

[Editor’s note: Adeeb Sahar, Stanford undergraduate student and Sunlight Foundation intern, asked me to post the following PSA about Sunlight’s many projects of interest to students, researchers, and the public. FGI has no official connection to Sunlight Foundation. We just love what they’re doing!]

The Sunlight Foundation has launched a campaign to partner with university libraries to provide easy access for students and researchers by cataloging as electronic resources its vast online databases of information on politics and government data.

Sunlight Foundation is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to enhance government transparency through free online resources that track political contributions, follow federal regulations and bills and monitor Congressional activity.

Many universities have already let in the sunlight; Sunlight’s projects are cataloged in university library databases including those at Stanford University, New York University and the University of Pennsylvania. In its ongoing effort to supply government information to students, the Sunlight Foundation is looking to partner with even more university libraries.

The following are the most commonly cataloged databases by university libraries and are geared toward university-level researchers and students interested in political science, public policy, and politics and government:

  • Scout is the first free searchable database of regulations and bills from all fifty states and the federal government. This service searches through a variety of sources including the Congressional Record, THOMAS, and the Federal Register to produce curated legislative news alerts.
  • Influence Explorer contains the most recent information on political contributions, lobbying information, contracts and other government data, allowing users to track and analyze influence by lawmaker, company or prominent individual.
  • Clearspending is a scorecard that analyzes how well U.S. government agencies are reporting their spending data on USAspending.gov and provides insights to any descrepancies.
  • Open Congress brings together official legislative data with news and blog coverage, social networking, public participation tools, and more to give users a comprehensive assessment of Congressional activity.
  • Capitol Words makes searchable all Congressional records from 1996 to today by state, date or politician to uncover the most popular words and phrases used by legislators in the U.S. Congress.

If you are a subject specialist interested in including Sunlight Foundation’s electronic databases on your university library website, contact Adeeb Sahar at asahar@sunlightfoundation.com or Amy Ngai at angai@sunlightfoundation.com. See the Sunlight Foundation site for more information about our projects.

Cool new tool from Sunlight!

Gary Price points out a great new tool for getting alerts on Federal and State Government Info:

  • Scout: A New Alerting Tool (Beta) for Fed/State Government Info From Sunlight Labs, by Gary Price, Infodocket (April 25, 2012).

  • Scout.

    Scout is a free service that provides daily insight to how our laws and regulations are shaped in Washington, DC and our state capitols….

    Scout allows anyone to subscribe to customized email or text alerts on what Congress is doing around an issue or a specific bill, as well as bills in the state legislature and federal regulations.

GovTrack 2.0

Josh Tauberer has announced changes to his wonderful GovTrack website and service.

  • We’ve made a few “tweaks” to GovTrack, by Josh Tauberer, GovTrack blog, (March 19, 2012).

    …there are some things missing from GovTrack 2.0 that were in the old site, and if you need them you can still find them for now at http://legacy.govtrack.us, which continues to run the old site. I apologize for discontinuing some features, such as information on amendments, but with the site’s tiny budget I’m just not able to keep everything running at once…

  • GovTrack.

    GovTrack helps you find the status of U.S. federal legislation, voting records for the Senate and House of Representatives, information on Members of Congress, and congressional district maps.

    Much of the information shown on GovTrack is assembled in an automated way from official government websites. primarily the website THOMAS which is the official website for the status of legislation run by the Library of Congress.

Hat Tip to InfoDocket!

New Widget: put text of bills w/features on your web site.

An excellent new tool from Josh Tauberer, creator of GovTrack.us: POPVOX.

Bill text widgets are available on www.popvox.com, which aggregate information about pending bills and let individuals weigh in with a message that is delivered to Congress. Every pending bill is available on POPVOX — from health and energy, to defense, jobs, and the environment.

The bill text embed includes a keyword search and section-by-section table of contents created by POPVOX. To embed the bill text widget, just visit the POPVOX page for any bill, click the tab to “view bill text” and select “embed” from the menu bar at the bottom.

Here is an example: S. 1549: American Jobs Act of 2011: