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Tag Archive: WashingtonWatch

Leading by Example: Earmark Transparency

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Due to the failure of Congress to act on President Obama's State of the Union call for a central database of earmarks, a number of NGOs had to build one from the disjointed and disparate disclosures on congressional websites. The database of earmark requests for 2011 was diligently compiled by WashingtonWatch.com, Taxpayers for Common Sense (both Sunlight grantees) and Taxpayers Against Earmarks. They had to troll through more than 39,000 requests sprinkled across congressional websites and deal with horrible data quality issues. As Daniel Schuman expanded on earlier this year, it ain't easy tracking earmarks.

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Watch Washington

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All of us at the Sunlight Foundation want to congratulate our grantee Jim Harper for the success of WashingtonWatch.com, a very useful site for citizens eager to follow and impact federal governmental policy. The web traffic of the site has grown 350% over the past 12 months with a half-million citizens visiting the site in 2007. WashingtonWatch.com gives us a unique way to access and share information about individual bills being considered by the Congress and regulatory changes being considered by the federal bureaucracy. The site uses government predictions on the costs or savings from proposed bills and regulations, and then calculates what that means to individual Americans in dollars and cents. With an increasingly Web-enabled citizenry, Jim's site is a valuable tool to not only keep tabs on our nation's business, but allows each of us to have our say. Over the past year, WashingtonWatch.com has added tools which expand its usefulness, including a wiki function allowing the public to post comments on individual bills and federal policy, and a widget that allows bloggers to post vote totals on bills they care about on their blogs.

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More Widgets!

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Widget

Yesterday, I highlighted a new interactive and customizable widget that lets the citizen be the journalist, AskYourLawmaker.org. Here's another really interesting one.

Besides his day job at the Cato Institute, Jim Harper is the creative force behind WashingtonWatch.com, which places a value on changes to future federal spending, taxes, or regulation. The goal of the site is to convey the significance to average Americans -- in dollars and cents -- of proposed changes to the nation's policies. Jim's new widget allows bloggers to show the current state on pending legislation. It allows individuals to comment on the bill, and to even vote yea or nay on the legislation. It's very cool.

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