Monday, January 10, 2005

GovTrack.us: Track Federal Legislation

GovTrack.us: Track Federal Legislation is the winner of the Technorati developers contest. The application allows you to track what bloggers are saying about various bills, representatives and other things. From the About page:

There is a huge divide between citizens and government in the United States. I'm no expert in politics, but it seems to me the larger the divide the less responsible politicians are to their constituents, and this is bad. Worse yet, it can be avoided. We could have better government if we could only make it simpler for people to see what their representatives are doing.

The problem isn't that people cannot see what their senators and representatives are doing. They tell us what they're doing through newsletters and media coverage. And we can see them doing what they're doing on C-SPAN. Furthermore, the government itself makes available information about legislation through Thomas (http://thomas.loc.gov). But each of these sources has its flaws, including bias, dullness, and information overload, making them useless for the interested citizen to casually keep tabs on Congress.

GovTrack.us fills the need for a source of information useful for people. It is both a large collection of data as well as a tool for filtering out what you don't want to see. You can dig deep in GovTrack, finding information the mass media does not have room for, and you can let GovTrack send information to you, like a newspaper customized to your interests. It's the power of the Internet put to use to close the citizen-country divide.

On this site you'll find the status of legislation, the speeches of representatives on the House and Senate floors, voting records, campaign contribution summaries, and more, plus the opinions of other users through their blog entries. And you can follow only the issues that interest you through email updates and RSS feeds.


It seems that there is a tremendous use here for activists. They can quickly and easily gather information -- following it very close to real time. This allows for many benefits: commenting directly to various interested parties, sending the information out to their own constituencies, and making sure that the work they are doing is showing up in GovTrack because they are using RSS feeds.

(in: technorati, govtrack, activist_tools)