The Sunlight Foundation is a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that uses the tools of civic tech, open data, policy analysis and journalism to make our government and politics more accountable and transparent to all. Our vision is to use technology to enable more complete, equitable and effective democratic participation. Our overarching goal is to achieve changes in the law to require real-time, online transparency for all government information, with a special focus on the political money flow and who tries to influence government and how government responds. And, while our work began in 2006 with only a focus on the U.S. Congress, our open government work now takes place at the local, state, federal and international levels.
We believe that information is power, or, to put it more finely, disproportionate access to information is power. We are committed to improving access to government information by making it available online, indeed redefining “public” information as meaning “online.”
We approach our work in a number of ways. We work with thousands of software developers, local transparency activists, bloggers, on and off-line active citizens and journalists, involving them in distributed research projects, hackathons and training. Sunlight’s Policy team pushes for improved transparency policy through NGO efforts like OpeningParliament.org, and by working directly with governments at all levels. Our reporters cover political influence stories both through reporting and through close collaboration with technical staff, leveraging computer-assisted reporting and data visualization techniques. And in Sunlight Labs, our team of technologists and designers create apps and websites to bring information directly to citizens, as well as building and maintaining APIs—Application Programming Interfaces—that power the applications and work of others.
These efforts have produced real results. To date, we have served more than 4.2 billion API calls (and counting), indicating how much the data we liberate is needed. Our reporting is frequently cited by the world’s preeminent journalists. Our research has led to congressional hearings, and our tools have stripped problematic measures from bills. And we recently won a major victory when, at our urging, the federal government agreed to begin the process of releasing all datasets held by federal agencies.
But we know that as government grows ever-more complex, and as the flow of political money becomes more perverse, we will all need better and more creative tools to ensure that democracy thrives.
Get involved in helping us open up government, one dataset at a time.