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This is bad news for government transparency advocates. The Sunlight Foundation shut down its Web Integrity Project (WIP) yesterday. WIP was created almost two years ago and was tracking “tens of thousands of federal government webpages each week, has reported on and sourced hundreds of stories about federal websites, has provided materials for congressional oversight, and has engaged with the executive branch and watchdog community on web integrity issues.” Unfortunately, they were unable to secure funding to keep the project going. At least their site and all their work has been archived and will be available at the Internet Archive.
Many thanks to Toly Rinberg, Andrew Bergman, Rachel Bergman, Jon Campbell, Sarah John, and Aaron Lemelin for your fine work!
Fast forward to today, and WIP monitors tens of thousands of federal government webpages each week, has reported on and sourced hundreds of stories about federal websites, has provided materials for congressional oversight, and has engaged with the executive branch and watchdog community on web integrity issues. As a result of our efforts, federal agencies may be paying better attention to their websites and are more aware that people are watching.
In today’s America, where government websites are “the primary means by which the public receives information from and interacts with the Federal Government,” web monitoring is profoundly important at the beginning of each new administration. In the intra-agency tumult that prevails just after the inauguration of a new president, there is much potential for useful and relied-upon content to be lost and for political machinations to dominate. Many of the most significant website changes that we’ve seen at the Web Integrity Project happened within the first few months of the new Trump administration, like the removal of climate change resources from the EPA’s website, ACA-related content and pages from the HHS website, LGBT resources from the Department of Labor’s website, or the staff directory from the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s website.
With that track record of accomplishments in mind, we announce that the Sunlight Foundation will be shutting down WIP as of today. While we were unable to secure continued financial support for the program, we want to ensure that our work lives on online, true to the values of the program, so we are ensuring that our reports, the Gov404 tracker, and our blog posts are properly archived using the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.