Have you used Opengovernment.org? Tell us what you think

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A while back, we wrote about the different ways in which Opengovernment.org helps bloggers and activists alike to track legislative data in their states. You can read all about it here , here and here. The three-part series explained how you can use this tool to follow important bills in your state, while learning more about your local representatives. We’re always looking for feedback that helps us revamp our tools to create more user friendly interfaces — so we’d like you to share with us what you’d like to see out of a tool that lets you see into your state government.

We would like to hear your thoughts and suggestions regarding the kind of information you are interested in seeing about your state — to make it more open and accessible. In this Opengovernment.org user survey, we invite you to explore the site here (if it’s your first time learning about it) then share your impressions.

Not sure where to start? Just to give you some ideas, I recently looked into the Campaign Contributions section which highlights the money trail in each state. Each of the six featured states has a detailed section on campaign contributions, grouped mainly by industry or sector. It is no secret that one of the biggest problems we are facing in our democracy is undisclosed money in politics, with special interests lurking around our legislators to push for their own motives instead of ours. What data we do have, however, (from the National Institute on Money in State Politics is in opengovernment.org, with the top 20 contributors and their top 20 recipients highlighted. You can follow the money trail by issue or sector. For example, care about choice issues? Political Action Committees (PACs) that work on issues having to do with abortion and choice contributed a total of $190,874. Take a look at California’s money trail to see: A brief glance at California’s Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan (the top most recipient of money from these groups), reveals that at $21,152.00 she received the most in campaign contributions, and Emily’s List may be one of the top contributors on these issues, in at $142,356.

So, as part of the revamping process for Opengovernment.org, perhaps a tool that links top lobbyists to state legislators would be an in-depth way of fully understanding who connects the money to the power.

You too can play around with the site and see what you can find then send us your suggestions.

To take the Opengovernment.org survey, please click here:

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