Sunlight’s Dodd-Frank Tracker is being decommissioned


Today we are turning off [our Dodd-Frank tracker]( It will still be online but it will be frozen in time, no longer reflecting new meetings.

A close up picture of the Wall Street sign.
Wall Street. Photo credit: echiner1/Flickr

With the passage of the Dodd-Frank Act in 2010, the starting pistol was fired in the race to define the new rules that would regulate financial markets. The law left many of the most important details to be defined by the regulators. This added greater weight to the meetings the regulators would have with the various parties seeking to influence the way the sweeping financial reform law would be implemented. Acknowledging the importance these meetings would have, the five agencies involved each volunteered to disclose the meetings online. It was an important moment for online disclosure — one we wish more agencies would follow — but in practice it was difficult to make sense of the data.

Each of the five agencies decided its own policy on details it would disclose, the schedule it would follow in publishing them and the format it would use. This made it difficult to answer such simple questions as: How many meetings have Goldman Sachs executives had with agency staff? When did these meetings occur? What were they about?

In 2011 we created our Dodd-Frank tracker to give the public a tool to analyze the meeting records. The tracker unlocked the value of the data by aggregating it, standardizing it as well as making it searchable. The tool became fodder for [numerous stories]( about how big financial interests were lobbying regulators. For example, on the three-year anniversary of Dodd-Frank’s passage:

* Nancy Watzman explained how the [Dodd-Frank meeting data need improvement]( * Lee Drutman, Ben Chartoff, Amy Cesal and Alexander Furnas showed [what the banks’ three-year war on Dodd-Frank looks like]( * The New York Times included our meeting data in [deconstructing Dodd-Frank](

The regulators have missed more than a few deadlines to define and implement the rules stemming from Dodd-Frank. These delays have extended the process well past the original intended useful lifetime for our tracker. The ScraperWiki-based infrastructure it runs on is being decommissioned and, with the meetings now reduced to a trickle, we will be turning off the tracker rather than updating the tracker to run on new infrastructure. We would be remiss if we let this moment pass without reiterating the lessons to be learned from this process.

All regulators should follow the lead of the Treasury, Federal Reserve, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodity Futures Trading Commission in disclosing meetings online. They should go beyond replicating conventional meeting logs in an online format by publishing the meetings as open data. Most of the issues encountered by consumers of the Dodd-Frank meeting disclosures could have been avoided by following the [Eight Principles of Open Government Data]( and our [Open Data Policy Guidelines]( However, before those guidelines can be applied, the agencies need to recognize that meetings should be published as machine readable data. Only then will humans be able to make the best use of them.