Announcing the Docket Wrench API


To get started with the Docket Wrench API, sign up for a Sunlight API key. Then take a look at the documentation of its methods, or start querying it using our interactive API explorer.

In January of this year, Sunlight announced the release of our Docket Wrench tool, which exposes vast amounts of data about the federal regulatory process, with a particular focus on uncovering patterns in the text of regulatory comments. Users can search the full text of over three million documents, examine the regulatory influence activity of the same prominent corporate actors we track in Influence Explorer, and make sense of very large collections of comments by automatically grouping together form-letter submissions.

We’re now pleased to announce the first release of Docket Wrench’s API to the public. This API will allow developers to leverage the same analytical infrastructure that powers Docket Wrench to build innovative new services and tools. The data in the API goes beyond what is supplied by, the underlying data provider behind Docket Wrench, and includes:

  • Metadata about rulemaking documents (such as notices, rules, and proposed rules)
  • Metadata about regulatory comments, including information about any corporate entities either mentioned in or recognized as a submitter of the comment in question
  • Metadata and aggregate statistics about dockets (collections of rulemaking documents and comments), including timelines of submission activity, summary statistics of recognized submitters, etc.
  • For all documents of supported file types (HTML, PDF, Microsoft Word, and others), extracted document text and/or HTML
  • Full-text search across all document, with results returned either as listings of individual documents, or aggregated to find dockets that contain significant numbers of occurrences of the search phrase
  • Access to Docket Wrench’s clustering analysis for each docket, including enumeration of the sets of clusters within a docket at multiple similarity thresholds, significant and distinguishing phrases within each cluster, and access to the text of each clustered document with phrases annotated by frequency

Better still, we’re currently finalizing plans to expand Docket Wrench’s reach beyond the agencies that participate in In time, we hope to add support for important rulemaking bodies like the SEC, FCC and FEC, making Docket Wrench an even more powerful hub for regulatory data. Don’t forget to keep an eye on the API documentation going forward: the API features will keep pace with the rest of the site as we add new functionality to Docket Wrench.

Finally, as this is the first API release, we know we won’t have anticipated every need members of the developer community might have with respect to this data, so don’t hesitate to reach out if you’d like to talk about additional API features that would help you take advantage of Docket Wrench’s data as you incorporate it into your applications.