WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the Sunlight Foundation is announcing the creation of the Open House Project, a collaborative and bipartisan effort on open government. The purpose of the project is to study how the House of Representatives currently integrates the internet into its operations, and to make public recommendations to its leadership on how to make the House of Representatives' work more available to citizens on the Web.
"The Internet is an incredible vehicle for transparency, honest leadership and open government," said Speaker Pelosi, in response to the project's launch. "I am encouraged by this working group and look forward to recommendations on how the House can be as open and accessible to citizens as possible."
The Open House Project working group will meet online via list-serv, blog and wiki. It is being led by Matt Stoller (of MyDD.com) and John Wonderlich (lead coordinator of the Congressional Committees Project on DailyKos) with Sunlight's senior strategists Andrew Rasiej and Micah Sifry providing ongoing support.
The bipartisan group, which includes renowned technologist Clay Shirky, Bush/Cheney 2004 eCampaign Director Mike Turk, Govtrack creator Joshua Tauberer, and leading blogger Markos Moulitsas-Zuniga of the Daily Kos, will be regularly consulting leaders in congressional process and the Internet as well as civically engaged citizens for their assistance in creating consensus on short-term reforms that can be implemented in the House. Expertise and research on many different aspects of Congress—ranging from video content, committee documents, and legislative support agencies, to lobbyist disclosure, and the use of structured information—will be integrated into a report to be presented to the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in March.
"This is truly an exciting effort, with great potential to further greater common sense reform in the House," said Ellen Miller, Executive Director of the Sunlight Foundation. "We are seeking to bring together the 'best and brightest' from the public and private sectors, who best understand how Congress can implement some fairly easy ideas that will greatly expand transparency and openness."
"Since the value of our recommendations increases along with the expertise of those contributing to our project, we're looking to the greater community to help identify attainable reforms," said John Wonderlich, who is organizing the project with Matt Stoller. "By inviting input from stakeholders normally outside the legislative process, the House leadership has taken a first step in promoting an informed citizenry."
The initial groups that have signed up to be part of the conversation include a wide range of participants, including watchdog groups, bloggers from the right and left, and open government groups. A list of initial participants is as follows:
Abrams Stern, MetaVid
Andrew Rasiej, Personal Democracy Forum
Ari Schwartz, Center for Democracy and Technology
Ben Rahn, Act Blue
Britt Blaser, Open Resource Group
Clay Shirky, NYU's ITP
Conor Kenny, Congresspedia
Dan Manatt, PoliticsTV
Dan Newman, MapLight
David Alpert, Drinking Liberally
David Moore, Open Congress
Ellen Miller, Sunlight Foundation
Ezra Klein, blogger
Gary Bass, OMB Watch
Jock Friendly, Legistorm
John Wonderlich, Congressional Committees Project,
Josh Tauberer, Govtrack
Marc Laitin, Wired for Change
Mark Tapscott, Washington Examiner
Markos Moulitsas-Zuniga, Daily Kos
Matt Stoller, MyDD
Micah Sifry, Personal Democracy Forum
Mike Turk, NCTA
NZ Bear, Porkbusters and Truth Laid Bear
Ryan Alexander, TaxPayers for Common Sense
Scott Chacon, Open Source Democracy Project
Stacy Holmstedt, AZ Congresswatch
Steve Urquhart, Politicopia
Affiliations are for identification purposes only.
The Open House Project is launching their blog at www.theopenhouseproject.com, and also using a wiki to collect information and recommendations.
Founded in January, 2006, the mission of the Sunlight Foundation is to strengthen the relationship between lawmakers and their constituents. Sunlight puts information and tools in citizens' hands so they can learn more about what Congress and their elected representatives are doing. Its ultimate goal is full transparency by Congress, its Members and staff will help reduce corruption, ensure greater accountability, and foster public trust in this vital institution of democracy.
Since its founding, the Sunlight Foundation has issued $1.6 million in grants to groups that develop and use Internet technology to further Sunlight's goals. Additionally, the Sunlight Foundation has introduced new technology of its own, and fostered projects that harness the collective energy of Internet users to quickly research everything from Congressional earmarks, to which Members of Congress pay their spouses and children out of campaign accounts.