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Victory! FEC Launches Data Catalog

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Earlier this year, I was invited to testify in front of the FEC on how they could improve their web presence. Together, we as a community built our testimony that I in turn, delivered to them. Whether it was our Redesigning the Government piece on the FEC, or the crowdsourced testimony, we delivered it in full (start on page 25 of that pdf file).

I'm pretty excited to see this note from Bob Biersack floating around the intertubes announcing the launch of fec.gov/data and fec.gov/blog -- the commission is calling their blog the "Disclosure Data Blog" where they'll be posting information and plans about the files they're producing and taking a more proactive approach towards disclosure.

On top of that, they're beginning to make data available in standard, extensible, machine readable formats. They're moving beyond COBOL (which apparently is celebrating its 50th anniversary!) towards CSV, XML and RSS, alongside PDF and a fairly solid HTML interface. Right now, they've just released three datasets, Bundled Contributions, Leadership PACs and Sponsors, and Lobbyist "Statements of Organization," and haven't gotten to the big stuff like campaign contributions and expenditures, but it is certainly a giant step in the right direction, and a great example of how an agency should publish data. How wonderful to know we're being listened to.

And I believe it stemmed from your testimony that you helped us give to the FEC. Sure, they have a long way to go before they implement all of our suggestions. But they have implemented some, and quickly too. It is truly a cause for celebration to see an agency react to new ideas from their constituents.

Let's keep our eye on fec.gov/data and fec.gov/blog to see what they release next. And thanks to Lisa Rosenberg, Sunlight's Capitol Hill liason for making this work.