OpenCongress, a joint project of the Participatory Politics Foundation and the Sunlight Foundation, recently launched a new tools section that should be useful for anyone who follows Congress. The site draws on a variety of sources -- from official government resources to blogs -- to provide an in-depth view of "the real story behind what's happening in Congress."
According to the site, OpenCongress brings together information from:
- Official Congressional information from Thomas, made available by GovTrack.us: bills, votes, committee reports, and more.
- News articles about bills and Members of Congress from Google News.
- Blog posts about bills and Members of Congress from Google Blog Search and Technorati.
- Campaign contribution information for every Member of Congress from the website of the non-profit, non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics, OpenSecrets.org.
- Congress Gossip Blog: a blog written by the site editors of OpenCongress that highlights useful news and blog reporting from around the web. The blog also solicits tips, either anonymous or attributed, from political insiders, citizen journalists, and the public in order to build public knowledge about Congress.
The site's tools section opens up these resources in several new ways. You can setup RSS feeds for specific bills, members of Congress, or any of the more than 4,000 issues designated by the Congressional Research Service. You can also use the site's open-source code to display an OpenCongress syndication panel on your site which you can customize (to a limited degree).
There is also a plugin for Firefox that combines OpenCongress and del.icio.us. The Congrelicious plugin allows you to watch embedded videos and listen to audio from C-SPAN, YouTube, NPR, and other sources.
I've been playing around the OpenCongress site setting up a feed for the House and Senate versions of the Free Flow of Information Act of 2007. Expect to see this information in a syndication panel on our shield law resources page soon.