sunlight foundation

What open data policies can and should do

Open Data Policy

Authored by Laurenellen McCann, national policy manager for the Sunlight Foundation.


As more communities recognize the power and possibilities of sharing public data online, there is an increasing need to articulate what it means to open data—and how to create policies that can not only support these efforts, but do so in a sustainable and ambitious way.

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Get funded with OpenGov Grants

open government grants

We know how challenging fundraising can be. You start an innovative project using technology to make government more open and accessible and halfway through—you run out of money. Or maybe you know someone who is collecting municipal data and wants to make a cool app to help residents understand how local government works, but they don’t have funding.

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Transparency Camp event report and review of new tools

Transparency Camp event report

I got bitten at camp this weekend, but indifference would have been the only relevant repellant and thankfully, I'm allergic to that. Here's what I learned as a first-time camper.

Transparency Camp is not for the faint of heart. It requires you to dig in deep.

If you are a tech expert, like Northeast Ohio's own Jeff Schuler, you look for how to apply everything you know to figuring out ways to free data.

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Open source text analysis tool exposes repurposed news

text analysis technology

Churnalism US is a new web tool and browser extension that allows anyone to compare the news you read against existing content to uncover possible instances of plagiarism. It is a joint project with the Media Standards Trust.

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Open States gathers legislative data from all 50 states

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.

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Open source initiatives can strengthen cities’ downtown revitalization

open source city

The open government movement in the United States is well underway, though still brand new in terms relative to the pace of the workings of government. Change tends to be delivered slowly, as evident during President Obama’s re-election campaign this year when many of us had to remind ourselves that though some change has trickled down over the past four years, much of it has yet to come to pass due to the inherent processes of government bodies. And yet, it still astonishes me how quickly ‘open’ ideas are being accepted, built, and implemented into city governments from east to west coast. » Read more

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Sunlight Foundation's Eric Mill scouts out new developments in government

Transparency in government

Interested citizens and government professionals, meet your new pal, Scout. It sends you notifications when new developments in government happen—your government, your departments of interest, your items of relevance. 

We caught up with Scout's creator, Eric Mill, a web and mobile developer at Sunlight Foundation, to give us the details of the technology powering Scout and some explanation to why we thought this tool already existed.

Mill is an expert at developing technology that makes government more transparent and avid about open source projects.

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Scout: Sending you updates about government activity

Transparency in government

Recently, I created and launched a new website for the Sunlight Foundation called Scout. It's the product I'm the most proud of building in my three years there. It is essentially a search and notification engine for government action. Simple idea, simple presentation, and it's easy to compare to Google Alerts—but there's a lot underneath the hood. » Read more

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PolitwOOPs! Deleted tweets from politicians never die

Donkey elephant oops

A brief tweet from Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) recently invited you to see her newly-decorated apartment and head-to-toe fashions. The problem? It wasn't her apartment. The link led to the website of a staffer in her press office and was promptly deleted from Twitter fifty-seven seconds later. Looks like someone got their social media accounts mixed up.

That might be the end of the story, except the gaffe lives on through Politwoops, an archive of deleted tweets from U.S. politicians hosted by the Sunlight Foundation. » Read more

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Open States project achieves grand milestone

Open States project achieves grand milestone

Three years ago at PyCon 2009, we had the first PyCon Open Government Hackathon. Our big project was Open States (then the 50 State Project). The goal was to begin scraping state legislatures' websites in the hope of providing a common format for bill metadata across all 50 states.

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