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New OpenGovernment.org Website Makes it Easy to Watchdog Local Government

Comprehensive legislative data available for five states

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 18, 2011

Contact: Gabriela Schneider 202-742-1520

WASHINGTON, DC –Americans have a new online resource to watchdog local government with today’s beta launch of OpenGovernment.org. A joint project of the Sunlight Foundation and the Participatory Politics Foundation, OpenGovernment.org is a free, open-source web application that creates government transparency at the local, city and state level. The website debuts with information on five state legislatures: California, Louisiana, Maryland, Texas and Wisconsin.

Like its popular sibling site, OpenCongress, OpenGovernment combines official government information with news coverage, blog posts, social media alerts and more to give readers the real story behind what's happening in their local government. The Sunlight Labs Open States project built the legislative backend for OpenGovernment. Supported in part by the work of volunteers, the Open States project’s goal is to collect and scrape legislative data from all 50 state legislatures and make it available online in a unified, developer-friendly format.

“Residents in these five states can now easily watchdog their state legislators through an online portal of public information. An engaged community is key to creating greater awareness on the importance of transparency in state and local government and infusing greater trust in our elected officials,” said Ellen Miller, co-founder and executive director of the Sunlight Foundation.

The data sources currently available on OpenGovernment are: state legislature information, including bills, member listings, official actions, votes and committees; news and blog coverage; campaign contributions; issue group ratings and official member contact information; Twitter mentions; legislator bios; video and U.S. congressional information. OpenGovernment also makes it easy for citizens to self-organize around issues they care being debated by state legislatures and contact their elected officials directly from bill pages. More data and additional states and cities will be added as they become available.

The Sunlight Foundation is a non-partisan non-profit that uses cutting-edge technology and ideas to make government transparent and accountable. Visit SunlightFoundation.com to learn more about Sunlight’s projects, including InfluenceExplorer.com and Party Time.