WASHINGTON, DC — The Sunlight Foundation officially launches Scout, a new free, online alert system that demonstrates how legislation and regulations are shaped in Washington, D.C. and in state capitols. The service allows users to create customized email or text alerts on actions Congress takes on an issue or a specific bill. It also makes it easy to search federal regulations and track bills in all 50 states (a first).
Scout saves your subscriptions and sends notifications via email or text message whenever the subscribed issue or bill is talked about in Congress, mentioned in the Federal Register or comes up in state legislation. The website covers a variety of sources including the Congressional Record, THOMAS, GovTrack, the Federal Register and Sunlight’s Open States project to create legislative news searches about issues a person, company or non-profit cares about. Users can also complement a Scout subscription by adding optional external RSS feeds, such as press releases from a member of Congress or an issue-based blog. The Sunlight Reporting Group also built a tool for people to receive Federal Election Commission campaign finance filing updates via Scout.
“When the site was in public beta just a few weeks ago, Scout alerts helped Sunlight and other non-profits deliver results on Capitol Hill around a piece of legislation we were following,” said Ellen S. Miller, co-founder and executive director of the Sunlight Foundation. “We created Scout as a way for researchers, the media, NGOs and others to have a simple and free way to get daily insights about how elected officials take action on issues they care about.”
Watch a video about how Scout can work for you. Join the Sunlight Foundation on Tuesday, June 26 for a webinar about Scout from 1 to 2 pm ET. The session will cover basic skills such as search terms and bill queries as well as advance functions such as tagging subscriptions, merging outside RSS feeds and curating search collections.
Our in-house developers at Sunlight Labs built Scout with generous support from the Stanton Foundation. Its code is open source and reusable and also provides a developer mode for advanced users. The site utilizes a number of Sunlight APIs including: Capitol Words, Real Time Congress and Open States. Read more about the data behind Scout.
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.