All of us at the Sunlight Foundation want to congratulate our grantee Jim Harper for the success of WashingtonWatch.com, a very useful site for citizens eager to follow and impact federal governmental policy. The web traffic of the site has grown 350% over the past 12 months with a half-million citizens visiting the site in 2007. WashingtonWatch.com gives us a unique way to access and share information about individual bills being considered by the Congress and regulatory changes being considered by the federal bureaucracy. The site uses government predictions on the costs or savings from proposed bills and regulations, and then calculates what that means to individual Americans in dollars and cents. With an increasingly Web-enabled citizenry, Jim’s site is a valuable tool to not only keep tabs on our nation’s business, but allows each of us to have our say. Over the past year, WashingtonWatch.com has added tools which expand its usefulness, including a wiki function allowing the public to post comments on individual bills and federal policy, and a widget that allows bloggers to post vote totals on bills they care about on their blogs.
For instance, here is the site’s treatment of The National Defense Authorization Act for 2008, H.R. 1585. And under WashingtonWatch.com’s calculation, the bill will cost each average American family $6,343.53. Visitors to the site have so far voted against the bill 54 to 46%.
"Americans have been treated as outsiders to their government for too long," Jim wrote in a post at TechLiberation.com a few days ago. "Though it’ll be a little rough, it will only be healthy to bring government officials and Washington advocates into more contact with the people that their jobs are all about," he added. We at the Sunlight Foundation could not agree more.