Data Tools: Journalists' One-Stop Shopping for Ethics Investigations?

March 21, 2012

A new federal website may someday help journalists hold government more accountable. The so-called "Ethics.gov" website promised — and now finally delivered — by the White House bundles together a number of searchable federal databases that may help explore questions of political influence.

The site allows you to search several databases with a single search-term entry, potentially speeding discovery of information. It includes data on lobbying registrations, political action committees, contributions to candidates, travel reports, foreign-agents registrations, and more. But some open-government advocates consider it merely a down payment on a more comprehensive system.

The Sunshine Foundation's policy director, John Wonderlich, praised it, but told Politico: "We should be clear about what this new site does and doesn't do — neither money and politics research nor executive branch oversight are going to be revolutionized by this search page — at least not yet."