Five weeks ago, I promised that we would strive to close down Sunlight Labs efficiently, responsibly and transparently. I stated that we would, where possible, work with our friends and partners to construct viable futures for existing projects. And I clarified that our primary goal was to ensure that Labs’ products are available to everyone freely and equally in a useful format. We’re well on our way to achieving those goals, and I’m pleased to provide an update today on future plans for our existing projects.
(This is a long post, folks. Buckle up.)
The following federal legislative tools will be adopted by ProPublica, an independent, nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest:
The following campaign finance tools will be adopted by the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to producing and disseminating data and analysis on money in politics.
The Marshall Project, a nonpartisan, a nonprofit news organization that covers the U.S. criminal justice system, will adopt Hall of Justice, our searchable inventory of almost 10,000 publicly-available criminal justice datasets and research.
The Department of Commerce will officially adopt Sunlight’s Python wrapper for the Census API.
The Open States website and API will be adopted by a group of Sunlight Labs alumni, who will initially run it on a volunteer basis while they determine a more sustainable path forward. The Open States group will be led by James Turk, who – years ago – dreamed up an audacious, impossible project: to bring legislative information from all 50 states into one free, open source API that anyone could use. James drove that project to completion, and then supervised its continuation for years. Open States is by far the most complicated and costly technological project that Sunlight runs. James and his band of merry devs know the challenges and opportunities it presents better than anyone, and they will bring expertise and commitment to its next iteration.
Finally, Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute plans to develop and launch a successor to Docket Wrench, a tool Sunlight built to uncover influence and similarities in federal regulatory comments.
We are still looking for a home for Email Congress, a service that allows constituents to email their congressional representatives directly rather than going through webforms. If you would be interested in adopting Email Congress, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some principles apply to all adoptions, regardless of the product or the adopting organization:
As many in our community know, taking on someone else’s open source project is akin to adopting a pet. It’s an act of love, and it’s likely to be messy while everyone figures out how to make things work day to day. We have offered all of the adopting organizations the opportunity to publish their plans for these tools on our blog, and we expect they’ll be filling everyone in as they can. We will also provide updates and additional information over the next few weeks. In the meantime, you can still tweet us questions with the hashtag #sunlabslove or email us at email@example.com, and we’ll try to answer any specific questions you might have.
The Sunlight Foundation is a non-profit, nonpartisan organization that uses the power of the Internet to catalyze greater government openness and transparency, and provides new tools and resources for media and citizens, alike.