Last week, the White House released another set of visitor logs online and in a format that can be parsed and analyzed. The 25,000 individual records from September 16 through September 30, 2009 can provide valuable insight into how the White House is developing its policies and ultimately, gives us a rare look into who they are consulting as they develop their agenda.
This is yet another positive step by the Obama administration. By providing this data to the public, they once again show that they share Sunlight Foundation’s view that government information needs to be made public, and that in this day and age, that means it must be released online and in a researchable format.
That is where we come in. The minds over at Sunlight Labs under the direction of Clay Johnson, have taken the White House visitor logs and created a new mashup that will allow you to mine this data for information on the individual visitors. The new page links to data from the Center for Responsive Politics and the National Institute on Money in State Politics in order to show whether visitors have given campaign contributions. It links to Wikipedia pages and Google searches so that you can look deeper into the biographical information on visitors and get a fuller picture of the visitor’s perspectives on their specific issue area. And it links to their profile on LittleSis.org so you can see their relationships with politicians and other influentials.
The White House has promised that they will release this data on a monthly basis, with October’s data to be released sometime this month. One point of concern: The White House announced that they are withholding some records for reasons of national security, political sensitivity, privacy or other concerns. While we understand these concerns, it is unclear how many visitors fall into those categories, which could be used by either this administration or future administrations to scrub the data of meetings that they would like to hide.