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Help OpenCongress Fundraise (Not-For-Profit)

February 16, 2012 - by David Moore

The U.S. Congress is a baffling, closed-off institution. OpenCongress works every day to make its workings more accessible

Help us keep OpenCongress alive as a free & open-source public resource.

OpenCongress will launch a new fundraising drive next month and we need some volunteer web development time to make it happen. Click through to see how you can help. 

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PIPA Vote Delayed, Notable Win, Now Kill It Off

January 18, 2012 - by David Moore

Update 1-20-2012, 10am ET: Sen. Reid has officialy pulled the cloture vote on the PIPA net censorship bill that was scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 24th. Follow Ernesto Falcon for updates. Congrats to our new net-freedom sibling org. Fight For the Future & all our terrific allies in the American Censorship coalition.

While we savor this battle-win, keep in mind that net censorship should never have been a legitimate starting point - this terrible legislation was penned and pushed by Hollywood lobbyists & campaign donations, a perfectly egregious example of systemic corruption in the U.S. Congress - and that its supporters nearly succeeded in rushing PIPA / SOPA (the worst Internet legislation in history!) to a cloture vote - all this despite the largest online protest in history. Too close - too corrupt. To be clear, PIPA & SOPA are not dead, and we won't hold off on driving constituents to call their members' offices in opposition until they are past-doubt-dead.

Wednesday's #PIPA protest blew away OC's record for most web traffic in a day - over 256,000 visits, amazing. This post will be continually updated as we build-out our successful wiki community project: whip the Senate against PIPA. More info after the jump.

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As 2011 ends, the first session of the 112th U.S. Congress stumbles to a bad-faith curtain. The third branch of federal government in our representative democracy, Congress is down to a new record-low 11% approval rating, as per Gallup News this week. "This earns Congress a 17% yearly average for 2011, the lowest annual congressional approval rating in Gallup history," they report. USA #1 - we've hit a new bottom! These are the despised, fallible elected officials who write legislation shaping our laws, public policy priorities, & federal budget.

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OpenGovernment.org blog post on VoxPopuLII

December 5, 2011 - by David Moore

I'm pleased to have been asked to contribute a blog post on our work with OpenGovernment.org to VoxPopuLII, a legal research blog. Published today. Topics include the following: visceral contemporary public distrust of government; improved policy outcomes through deliberative democracy; mitigating systemic corruption through radical transparency; how researchers can use OpenGovernment to find & cite official bill text & legislative actions; OG's #opengov data partners & NGO allies; and our vision of making civic engagement as easy as using your favorite social networking service. Hope you'll read the post, click through for more info about it and a preview of what I think is its most share-able content.

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We're very excited to announce that OpenGovernment was selected to be one of 8 finalists in the News category at South by Southwest Interactive's Accelerator contest, March 14-16th in the gem-of-a-town, Austin, TX. Looking forward to meeting & trading ideas w/ the other finalists & attending SxSW in general. We're honored to have been chosen and excited to show our work.

Read the full post at the OG Blog. We'll represent for radical transparency & comprehensive reform. Holler at us to say hi.

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OpenGovernment launch day round-up

January 19, 2011 - by David Moore

Yesterday's launch of OpenGovernment received a nice wave of reactions on the leading micro-blogging service. To highlight a few: Alex Howard of O'Reilly Radar (the wide-ranging @digiphile) placed it in the #opengov landscape (previously, as a civic org. to watch); Nick Judd of TechPresident held a nifty interview; and AFSCME's info center highlighted it as a new tool for their members.

Don't miss the blog post announcement from Ellen Miller, the Executive Director of our partners, the Sunlight Foundation; and another by Tom Lee, the Director of Sunlight Labs. (Image at right: a roll call visualization of a Louisiana bill, made uniquely user-friendly on OG.)

It's not too early to point out that the OpenGovernment web application is already generating unique info, in the form of the most-viewed bills & members (so far)... continue reading the full post (it gets pretty vocal) & check out more (and bigger) screenshots over at the new OpenGovernment Blog. 

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OpenGovernment (beta) launches today!

January 18, 2011 - by David Moore

We're very excited to announce today's launch of the beta version of our next major project: OpenGovernment.org.

Free & open-source, OpenGovernment is a non-partisan public resource for transparency at any level of government: state, city, local, international, and more.  Finally, a version of OpenCongress for state legislatures.

This beta version is launching with information for five state legislatures: California, Louisiana, Maryland, Texas, and Wisconsin. Over the next year, we seek non-profit funding support to roll out OpenGovernment to all 50 U.S. states, dozens of major cities, other countries, and beyond. Click through for more info and to try it yourself.

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The current U.S. Congress is broken and corrupt. By broken, we mean the un-democratic rules of the U.S. Senate have crashed the system. By corrupt, we don't mean one party or another -- the ethics of the institution itself have crumbled in the wave of money in politics. We're working to fix it, as part of the reform community. And we have a good start, but there's a lot yet to do.

For us, it all comes down to this basic point: transparency, and only total transparency, breeds public trust. Click through to see examples and successful use cases of how people have used OpenCongress over the past year for greater transparency in our government and to get involved with Congress on the issues of health care reform, financial reform, and unemployment benefits. Then, please support our non-profit work with a tax-deductible donation.

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Announcing Our First-Ever Donation Drive

July 28, 2010 - by David Moore

For the first time ever, we're asking for your donation to keep OpenCongress up and running.

OpenCongress is a non-profit project leading the fight for open and accountable government. We provide OpenCongress as an independent public resource, 100% free and open-source.

If you believe in transparent government, please support our work with a tax-deductible donation. With your help, we'll keep fixing what's broken with Congress: Donate Now.

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Health Care Reform and OpenCongress

April 2, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

We built OpenCongress because the government source for congressional information was frustratingly unfriendly, and because we saw the potential for using emerging web tools to make congressional information as open, engaging and helpful as it ought to be. Since we launched more than 3 years ago, we've seen some big issues come and go -- immigration reform, the Iraq war, the financial bailout -- but nothing got people looking for factual information on what Congress was up to as much as health care reform. This past year has been a huge test of where we're at with improving access to Congress.

In the spirit of transparency, here's an overview of how OpenCongress was used during the health care debate.

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Health Care Reform and OpenCongress

March 26, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

We built OpenCongress because the government source for congressional information was incredibly unfriendly, and because we saw the potential for using emerging web tools to make congressional information as open, engaging and friendly as it ought to be. Since we launched more than 3 years ago, we've seen some big issues come and go -- immigration, Iraq, the financial bailout -- but nothing got people looking for factual information on what Congress was up to as much as health care reform. The past year has been a huge test of where we're at with improving access to Congress.

In the spirit of transparency, here's an overview of how OpenCongress was used during the health care debate.

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Political engagement is fundamental for fighting corruption, dysfunction and apathy in our government. That's why we're striving to make the best primary source information on Congress for political bloggers and journalists to use. Here's 5 ways you can start using OpenCongress on your blog right now to build public knowledge and engagement with Congress.

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Preview of OpenCongress Redesign

June 29, 2009 - by David Moore

Today, at the Personal Democracy Forum conference, OpenCongress is announcing our biggest update yet, coming this summer: a complete site re-design, more data on "the money trail" in Congress, and new tools to engage with your elected officials. Everyone can be an insider.

Currently, OpenCongress works as a hub of conversation about bills and issues in Congress, and the upcoming redesign will make the site a more powerful organizing platform. Here are some full-size screenshots of the redesign, along with quick ways for you to give your feedback and help spread the word...

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We have four major features to announce on OpenCongress today, and we are very excited about each one of them. Here's an overview, with more info and examples in the full post:

1. OpenCongress Wiki - for every Senator, Representative and major piece of legislation in Congress, there is now a space for people to work together to build a comprehensive overview of all the most important information.

2. Videos from Metavid, the open video archive of the U.S. Congress, and the YouTube hubs for the House and Senate. Now, for every Senator, Representative, and major bill in Congress, OpenCongress shows you embedded video footage of relevant floor speeches, official announcements, and more.

3. Inline bill text commenting, now with the ability to compare different versions of a bill. Building off our feature to comment and link to a bill's official text, paragraph-by-paragraph, now text changes are displayed in different color type for at-a-glance comparison.

4. For the Read The Bill campaign from the Sunlight Foundation and others, a new page to track bills that have been rushed through the Congressional process.

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New Feature: Inline Commenting for Bill Text

February 23, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

With legislation in Congress, it’s the specifics that really matter. That’s why, for every bill in Congress, now you can leave comments and spark discussion on specific blocks of text within a bill. Just scroll over any section of bill text, and the option to leave a comment will appear. After you leave a comment, a marker will show up next to the block of text you commented on so that everyone who reads through the bill knows that they can click through to view your comment.

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