|Weekly News Digest
April 30, 2012 — In addition to this week's NewsBreak(s), the editors have compiled the Weekly News Digest, featuring stories from the week just past that you should know about. Watch for additional coverage to appear in the next print issue of Information Today.
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Scout—A New Free Alert System for Government Information
Sunlight Labs introduced Scout, a free alert system for the things you care about in state and national government. It covers Congress, regulations across the whole executive branch, and legislation in all 50 states. You can set up notifications for new things that match keyword searches. Or, if you find a particular bill you want to keep up with, Scout can notify you whenever anything interesting happens to it—or is about to. Notifications are available via email, SMS, RSS, and JSON. Scout is in beta, and the developers are hoping to get community feedback.
Scout was developed by Sunlight Labs and data comes from a variety of sources.
- Bills in Congress: Bill text is provided by GPO, and most other information on bills comes from GovTrack, through THOMAS. Information from THOMAS and GPO is delayed by about one day and covers 2009 to the present.
- Notices of when a bill is scheduled for floor debate come from the House Republican Majority Leader, and Senate Democratic Caucus. This information is usually published a few days in advance and can change rapidly.
- Speeches in Congress: Speeches from the Congressional Record are provided by Capitol Words, a Sunlight Foundation project that analyzes word usage in Congress.
- The Congressional Record is published by GPO once each morning and covers 1996 to the present.
- State Bills: Information on state legislation comes from Open States, a Sunlight Foundation project that publishes data on state legislative activity for all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. This data originates from the official websites of the 50 state legislatures, and is published at various times throughout the day, depending on the state.
- Federal Regulations: Regulatory information is provided by the Federal Register. It is published throughout the day and covers 2009 to the present.
Sunlight Labs is part of the Sunlight Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that is focused on digitization of government data and making tools and websites to make it easily accessible. Sunlight Labs is an open source community of thousands dedicated to using technology to transform government. It focuses on transparency—the idea that government can be more effective, more honest, and more accountable when it makes data about its process, operations, and influences available to the public. Its work revolves around opening up government data of all forms. Paid staff of Sunlight Labs are employees of the Sunlight Foundation, a 501c(3) non-partisan, non-profit organization.
Source: Sunlight Labs
Paula J. Hane
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