Learn, Track & Share: Government Transparency on the State, City and Local Level


Last month, while researching a post on the politics and money site, MapLight.org, I came across another interesting online resource: OpenGovernment.org. The site is still very much in beta, but after having had a chance to check it out a little bit more this weekend, I thought it worth mentioning here to our readers.

The goal of OpenGovernment, supported in part by the great folks who run OpenCongress.org, is to provide and promote government transparency on the state, city and local levels. Still in its infancy, the site has launched and tracks the following states: California, Louisiana, Maryland, Texas, and Wisconsin. Given that Justia is based in the Golden State, I decided to take a look at what resources and information are available for California. Similar to the tools available at OpenCongress, OpenGovernment enables users to drill down and learn more about what’s happening in Sacramento by looking at individual bills, following specific legislators in the Senate and Assembly, or browsing by issue. In addition, the site has its own “Money Trail” which lists publicly-available information about campaign contributions made to members of the California state legislature. As examples, check out Big Tobacco, Telecommunications and Casinos and Racetracks. You can also look up your representatives by entering a ZIP code or an address, and one hopes in the future that we’ll also see a mash up geo-tracking feature that displays bills which specifically impact where one lives, similar to the feature found on govpulse.

The developers also provide different ways to track votes and actions on specific bills along with news and blog coverage, social media mentions and more with RSS feeds. As well, it appears that email alerts are coming soon. You can also keep up-to-date on what’s happening with the different sites by subscribing to OpenGovernment’s blog or liking their Facebook page.