January 19, 2011

A new transparency tool in town

Good news for state politics geeks. OpenGovernment.org yesterday launched in beta. It’s a site that scrapes data from state legislatures — bills, campaign finance, people and issues — and puts it all in one accessible spot. And lucky for us, they started with Wisconsin (plus Texas, California, Louisiana and Maryland).

There you can leaf through bills (example: a resolution to commend UW-Whitewater’s football team for winning). Or you can see which sectors, industries or businesses have spent the most money on Wisconsin politicians. Or keep up on what people are tweeting about your legislator.

OpenGovernment.org is a joint project of the Participatory Politics Foundation and the Sunlight Foundation, the same folks who put together OpenCongress.org. Project director David Moore says his team is planning to put up sites for all 50 states.

A work in progress, OpenGovernment.org is not without bugs (and welcomes help). But we’ll be watching closely how it develops, because the huge breadth of information the site can pull has great potential. We quote:

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  • Kate, thanks for the mention, appreciate it. Perfect overview of our site’s offerings & what we’re about. We’ll keep developing this beta version and improving our info & features, but we’re interested in feedback on what we have so far, reach me anytime at david att ppolitics d0t org. Also, have to shout out my home state — though I now live in NYC, I’m proud to have grown up in Milwaukee and have traveled all over the state. We’ll be rolling out OG to all 50 states, but WI is close to my heart, hope it proves to be a useful resource.