Home OpenGovernment: Government Data with a Social Media Twist

OpenGovernment: Government Data with a Social Media Twist

The idea of “open government” got a boost last week with the launch of OpenGovernment.org, a joint project of the Sunlight Foundation and the Participatory Politics Foundation. Similar to sibling project OpenCongress, which launched in 2008, OpenGovernment makes it simple for the average citizen to see inside the workings of their local and state governments.

Curious what bills are in the pipeline? Or what money is being spent where? OpenGovernment lays it all out in a clear and concise format that could help to create a more informed and participatory citizenry. Not only does OpenGovernment make it all accessible, it makes it interactive too.

OpenGovernment itself is an embodiment of the principles it hopes to expound: it is completely free to use and open-source.

With the beta launch, it will be opening up the local, city and state level governments to citizens’ eyes in California, Louisiana, Maryland, Texas and Wisconsin. According to the launch announcement, the project will pull together “official announcements, news coverage, blog posts, social media alerts and more to give a truly illustrative picture of local government.” Beyond third-party content like blog posts, the site also links directly to the full text of bills, legislators’ voting records and spending data culled from FollowTheMoney.org.

OpenGovernment doesn’t simply make it easy to access and understand government data, it makes it easy for users to interact around it. Users can gather around an individual bill and discuss the bill in comments. The site even offers RSS feeds for individual bills, so you can keep up with when actions are taken regarding that particular item.

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The announcement notes that “This is indeed a beta version of the site, so keep in mind that we expect there to be a few kinks, and much more data & features are forthcoming.” So far, so good, we have to say.

If you’re one who likes to keep informed on matters of the public interest, definitely consider giving OpenGovernment a perusal.

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