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OpenCongress: Government Meets Bloggers

Updated on December 15, 2009

You Are An Insider

If you've ever dreamed of being a government insider, your day has come.

As part of President Obama's promise of "transparency, participation, and collaboration," the government has introduced Open Congress - a free, open-source, not-for-profit, and non-partisan web resource with a mission to make Congress more transparent and to encourage civic engagement.

"...offers few channels for people to make their voices heard on consequential public policy matters before, during, and after the legislative process. This disconnect results in deep-seated public disapproval of Congress -- and worse, malignant apathy about politics as a whole."

"OpenCongress works to open up the doors and show how Congress actually works, as well as the real-world implications of bills. By getting at what bills are, what they propose to do, who is behind each bill, and where the money is coming from, we hope to inform and add power to everyone’s political ideas," a press release stated.

Watch-dog groups and investigative journalists can will be able to use this site as a tool for exposing corruption, putting a spotlight on scandals, wasteful spending, 'pay-to-play' corruption and holding politicians accountable for their records.

Open Congress brings together official government data with news coverage, blog posts, public comments, and more. The manner in which the data is presented actually makes it interesting and fun.

Bills are explained by every means possible and you can submit your anonymous vote on whether or not you support it. Battle Royale gives a round up of what's hot and what's not in Congress and again you get to throw in your vote.

If you choose to make a profile, you can track items, friends, your actions, watch your representatives and keep a political notebook (a virtual spiral notebook). The notebook is a handy addition that allows you save and share (or make it private) content from the site as well as from other sources, and add links, videos and files.

Widgets allow you to take the items most important to you to your personal website or blog and you can follow the site on Twitter @OpenCongress.

According to a news release, the site seeks "to address with OpenCongress is that the Congressional legislative process is largely closed-off from timely and meaningful public input. For most people, finding out what's really happening in our democratically-elected Congress is a difficult and discouraging task. The rules by which bills become laws are notoriously arcane. What's more, Congress offers few channels for people to make their voices heard on consequential public policy matters before, during, and after the legislative process. This disconnect results in deep-seated public disapproval of Congress -- and worse, malignant apathy about politics as a whole."

They are definitely on their way to success.

OpenCongress is a joint project of two 501c(3) non-profit organizations, the Participatory Politics Foundation and the Sunlight Foundation.


Now that you have the opportunity, will you be following legislation?

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