Sunlight Developer Community

Welcome to the Sunlight Developer Community!

Thank you for your interest in Sunlight’s web tools and APIs.

Due to the closure of Sunlight Labs, we are no longer the providers of these services.

Most of our major projects were taken over by other organizations.

On this page, you’ll find a sampling of external projects that you could pitch in to help. There are three categories for projects:

  • Needs tech help, for projects that need a software developer’s touch
  • Needs non-tech help, for projects that rely on a community of volunteers to help analyze government data
  • Projects to inspire, for projects that aren’t actively seeking contributions, but are open source projects, ready to be deployed in your home jurisdiction.

Know of a project that fits one of these categories?

Filter our community’s projects to find one that inspires you.

Needs Non-Tech Help

  • Actual Value Calculator

    City of Philadelphia

    A tool to help property owners estimate their real estate tax based on the Actual Value Initiative, a program to ensure that property values are fair and accurate. Working across departments, the City of Philadelphia released an API and this web app to streamline workflow and make accessible this data for residents. Contribute to the app or view their code here.

    Projects to Inspire

  • Chicago Lobbyists

    Open City

    An open data, open government and open source project intended to improve the transparency of interactions between the City of Chicago and lobbyists and their clients.

    Projects to Inspire


  • I Paid a Bribe

    Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy

    Tackling corruption by harnessing the collective energy of citizens who report on the nature, number, pattern, types, location, frequency and values of actual corrupt acts.

    Projects to Inspire


  • DemocracyMap


    DemocracyMap is an initiative to better coordinate local boundary information and offer simple interfaces to discover and understand all the civic entities for a specific location. DemocracyMap aims to solve this problem by connecting citizens and journalists with the civic institutions and government bodies that represent any given location. Read more about contributing to DemocracyMap.

    Needs Non-Tech Help,

    Needs Programming Help


  • LittleSis

    Public Accountability Initiative

    LittleSis is a free database detailing the connections between powerful people and organizations. The site brings transparency to influential social networks by tracking the key relationships of politicians, business leaders, lobbyists, financiers, and their affiliated institutions. While the information is public, it is scattered across the internet. LittleSis brings it all together in one place by aggregating data from government filings, news articles and other reputable sources. Some data sets are updated automatically; the rest is filled in by our user community. Read more about submitting data to LittleSis.

    Needs Non-Tech Help


  • OpenElections


    The goal of OpenElections is to create the first free, comprehensive, standardized, linked set of election data for the United States, including federal and statewide offices. Read more about getting involved with Open Elections.

    Needs Non-Tech Help,

    Needs Programming Help


  • OpenSpending

    Open Knowledge Foundation

    The aim of OpenSpending is to help track every (public) government and corporate financial transaction across the world and present it in useful and engaging forms for everyone from a school-child to a data geek. OpenSpending currently needs both technical help and non-technical help.

    Needs Non-Tech Help,

    Needs Programming Help


  • The unitedstates Project on Github, Sunlight Foundation, others

    A collection of tools and data related to the fundamental workings of the United States. GovTrack and Sunlight jointly invested in a collector for information on legislative action, and a dataset containing core information on every past and present member of the United States Congress.

    Needs Programming Help


  • MuckRock


    MuckRock serves as a proxy for FOIA requests and creates a community database of FOIA-ed documents. In light of the Supreme Court decision to affirm states’ rights to prohibit out of state requests for public records, MuckRock is looking for citizens in affected states to serve as co-filers. Click here to learn more and volunteer.

    Needs Non-Tech Help


  • OpenCorporates


    OpenCorporates is the largest openly licensed database of companies in the world, collecting information from company registries and other company-related government datasets (often with the help of community-contributed scrapers, though also from the governments themselves). OpenCorporates is seeking both non-technical volunteers to help create corporate hierarchy mappings, and programming volunteers to create scrapers for new jurisdictions. Information about contributing to OpenCorporates.

    When we dream

    Sometimes we can’t hack our way out of a problem. Either the data for our vision doesn’t exist, or the burden of entry requires more resources than we can muster. But that doesn’t stop us from musing on how we might overcome the problem, to help build a more transparent government. Here’s what’s on our minds currently.

    At Sunlight, a perennial problem for us is reliably identifying influence on the legislative process. Influence can take many forms (money, lobbying, etc.), but the legislative process can more or less be conceptualized in bills. There have been several recent tools and discussions about how to properly track the changes to bills as they travel through Congress. Many of those with a technology background have proposed better version control for bills or even launched tools to allow for more transparent public input on bills.

    The problem with these tools is that they are only able to have an effect on a bill after its introduction. In reality, much of the influence happens before that bill is even introduced and available to the public. It’s this process that needs to be more open and accountable to really be able to track bill influence. There are several intermediate steps that could help of course, such as better and more timely lobbying disclosure, tracking changes in nearly identical bills across sessions, or even e-filing of campaign finance reports so that the public can see in real time where influxes of money are occurring. But for now, this remains a problem that we’ll continue to investigate.