As stated in the note from the Sunlight Foundation′s Board Chair, as of September 2020 the Sunlight Foundation is no longer active. This site is maintained as a static archive only.

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States of Transparency: Kentucky


The Open Government Directive encouraged states to put valuable government data online. In this series we're reviewing each state's efforts in this direction.

This week: Kentucky

While Kentucky has one of the country's most highly rated open government websites, OpenDoor.Ky.Gov, there is still much the state could do to provide more information in friendlier formats to reporters and the public.
The site, launched by Governor Steve Beshear in January 2009, was rated best in the country by USPIRG in its April survey of state government spending sites. It features a ...

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Introducing Recovery Explorer


More than a year has passed since President Barack Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Federal agencies have been distributing some $787 billion appropriated by the act to jump start the economy. According to, the Web site that tracks spending under the act, about 40 percent of that money has been spent, sent around the country in the form of contracts, grants, loans, tax benefits and entitlements.

The huge spending bill included funds for a mechanism to track spending under the bill, but getting a sense of which agencies have awarded the most money, or which ...

Continue reading Stop with the Data Defense, Start with the Conversation


iStock_000005438773XSmall.jpgThis week's "Chairman's Corner" reminds me of my first soccer game. At 5 years old, I was so excited to get the ball passed to me. I was so focused on keeping my eye on that ball just like my Dad told me. And as I dribbled it down the field I was thrilled to hear my parents scream in support. I was amazed at how good I was at this game-- nobody from the other team was blocking me and own teammates seemed to be flapping their arms encouraging me to take the shot! As I reached the end of the field, I grinned and gave that ball the kick of a lifetime, only to watch it fly by my own goalie's quizzical face.

Devaney's post is a defensive one, speaking to criticism from who he calls "journalists and Internet grouches," and an attempt to "bury the urban legends about the Board and the recovery program." Most of the critiques came out about six months ago, in October, when the data was released.

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In Indiana, stimulus grows rainy day fund


The North West Indiana County Times recently pointed out something fascinating about how Indiana was using funds granted to it under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act:

Indiana State Budget Director Christopher Ruhl confirmed the federal stimulus money was used to provide basic tuition support dollars for school districts, allowing the state to squirrel away funds that normally would have been used for that purpose.

"The state dollars saved were placed in our education rainy day fund," he said. "The special session budget required those funds be transferred from the education rainy day fund to the state general fund in ...

Continue reading Completely Tracking One-Fifth of the Recovery Act


In his State of the Union Address late last month, President Barack Obama declared - to great applause - that there were two million Americans working now who would otherwise be unemployed if not for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, better known as the stimulus.

Three days later, the same night that released a slew of new data on individual projects funded by the stimulus, the site Web ticker that tracks the total number of jobs reported by recipients dropped from 640,349 to 599,108.

Did we suddenly lose 40,000 jobs? And didnt the President say that ...

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My dog ate my stimulus: Best of Recovery recipients’ excuses


The Obama administration has made an unprecedented effort to use technology to publicly chronicle the flow of massive amounts of stimulus money, but government is slow to adapt, and not all of those who do business with it are so tech-savvy. 

Inaccuracies in data, from too-high job creation numbers to dollar amounts for awards given as "999999999" (probably as a placeholder) to reams of blank fields, make it difficult to assess how well or poorly the stimulus is doing. Many of those problems can be laid at the feet of those providing the information: the recipients of grants ...

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Data Quality Deserves to be Tackled on Its Own


Last week Clay wrote about how we'll be evaluating /open pages released under the OGD. The post ended with a series of considerations that we think are important: completeness, primacy, timeliness, accessibility, machine readability, availability without registration, being non-proprietary, freedom from licensing restrictions, permanence and obtainability.

One thing is conspicuously missing from the list, though: quality.

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We spend a lot of time talking about how Government does a lot wrong with data. And we harass them and complain a lot to the extent that even I get on my own nerves. But the fact is, the people and programmers working on these projects on the inside are neither malicious nor incompetent. The problem isn't people, but a weird system of priorities and incentives that often leaves the citizen short-handed. After all, transparency isn't even an inkling the constitution (yet!) and I'm fairly certain that the framers of our constitution weren't really considering data portability when they drafted the Bill of Rights.

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