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Electronic Toolbox for Congressional Information

Daniel Schuman, Policy Director of the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), has posted a list of very useful free digital tools that should be of use to “any self-respecting congressional staffer, Member of Congress, journalist, or public advocate.” Daniel notes that “All are free, run on information published by Congress or cobbled together from official sources, and most are built on open source code.” These are good free sources and good alternatives to the (sometimes pricy) commercial sources.

Some headings:

Committee Meeting Calendar
Follow House Floor Action
Google Alerts for Government (but not Google)
Collaboratively Write the Bill
Read the Bill
Read the Law
Congressional Staff Directory
Inspector General Reports
Searchable Press Releases
House Activities
A Few More Tricks

A Smart Tool For Informal Government Blogging?

When technology makes a difference: How about a blog that uses email as a way of posting? “For government employees, it could be a breath of life in an otherwise locked-down state of cybersecurity affairs. ”

US Census Bureau’s DataFerret

DataFerrett (Federated Electronic Research, Review, Extraction, and Tabulation Tool) is a free data mining and extraction tool developed by the U.S. Census Bureau that allows users to search, browse, combine, tabulate, recode, and analyze statistical data from a network of online data libraries. The DataFerret software can be downloaded from the website or ran in the browser via a java applet.

Some material to read before getting started:

  1. DataFerret Brochure
  2. Getting Starting with DataFerrett Tour
  3. DataFerret User Guide

Available data sets included:

  • American Community Survey (ACS)
  • American Housing Survey (AHS)
  • Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS)
  • Consumer Expenditure Survey (CES)
  • County Business Patterns (CBP)
  • Current Population Survey (CPS)
  • Decennial Census of Population and Housing
  • Harvard-MIT Data Center Collection
  • Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA)
  • Local Employment Dynamics (LED)
  • National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS)
  • National Center for Health Statistics Mortality (MORT)
  • National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (HANES)
  • National Health Interview Survey (NHIS)
  • National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NHAMCS)
  • National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife (FHWAR)
  • Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE)
  • Social Security Administration (SSA)
  • Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP)
  • Survey of Program Dynamics (SPD)

DataFerret is a wonderful tool for exploring and analyzing data. Enjoy!

(found via Open Access News)