5 Tools from The Sunlight Foundation to Access Government Info

March 19, 2014 5:00 am PST | Effective Governing

By Alida Moore


As part of Sunshine Week 2014, we want to take the opportunity to highlight an organization doing important work in the era of open government. Since 2006, The Sunlight Foundation has been using the power of the Internet to spur greater transparency in government. The Foundation creates tools, offers open data policy recommendations, and provides grant opportunities for open government advocates. 

A Bright Light in Open Government

Operating under the belief that information is power, the Foundation has created quite a few tools to help users track levels of influence, understand the inner workings of Congress, and track legislation and public policy. Sunlight Foundation has also developed a suite of mobile apps to help civic activists stay connected to the open data movement while on the go. Check out our five favorites. 

  1. Influence ExplorerThe arena of politics can be tricky to navigate, especially when a variety of sources or individuals can influence a single politician or organization. Influence Explorer helps users exposes patterns in political contributions at the state and federal levels, thus making it easier to track influence.
  2. Call on Congress: This resource, available in English and Spanish, is a free telephone number that users can call to learn more about how their congressmen and women are voting on bills, and more. 
  3. Scout: This very cool tool keeps users up to date on certain bills and issues in real-time. Scout is a rapid notification service that will ping you when there has been movement on an issue you care about. 
  4. Open States: If you want to learn more about lawmaking in your home state, this is the solution for you. Use Open States to track bills and get contact information on your legislators. 
  5. Sitegeist: If you find yourself in an unfamiliar part of town, this mobile app can give you the details on your location. Learn about the average age of residents, plus commuting information and more. 

Super Special Sunshine Bonus Tool

Politiwoops: This fun resource tracks those oopsie Tweets legislators seem to send by accident. Politiwoops brings a new level of transparency to Twitter and the government by tracking the deleted tweets of politicians. 

To empower yourself as a participant in open government and the fight for transparency, head over to the full list of tools developed by the Sunlight Foundation. And be sure to take part in Sunshine Week by following @SunshineWeek on Twitter and continuing the conversation around open data and transparency. 



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