InvestigateWashington

Online resources for Washington watchdog reporting from near or far

Compiled by @TomBruneDC and @Newshawks 

Table of Contents

  • Basics  
  • White House
  • Congress | Campaign contributions, conflicts of interest, lobbying
  • Legislation & regulation
  • Federal agencies | Directories, FOIA, spending, data
  • Federal investigations
  • Federal courts and prisons
  • Washington watchdog organizations

ONE-STOP SHOPPING 

Federal Digital System Government Publishing Office search engine now allows full-text and name searches of a vast storehouse of federally published reports, including the congressional record.

USA.gov Links to federal, state and local government websites

NCSL State Legislature Website Directory has links for finding bills, statutes, testimony

IntelTechniques Internet/social media/email searching mega-tool 

BASICS 

US Government Manual Official handbook of the Federal Government with comprehensive information on agencies of the legislative, judicial, and executive branches. Also includes information on quasi-official agencies, international organizations in which the United States participates, boards, commissions, and committees.

How federal laws are made

FedStats

Data.gov The Home of the U.S. Government’s Open Data

FOIA.GOV Where/how to file public records requests by agency + more

WHITE HOUSE

Whitehouse.gov

CONGRESS

DIRECTORIES

Congress.gov

Congress.gov Resources

Congressional Directory Searchable by name and location. Provides brief bios, contact information, and sponsorship of legislation.

GPO Member Guide

Congressional staff directories

CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS

Open Secrets FEC data made searchable by industry group, employer, individual donor, member of Congress, committee, PACs, 527s 

Federal Elections Commission Campaign filings on money raised, spent, loaned. Downloadable and searchable by state, district, election, industry, individual, committee, etc. 

FEC Notify  allows you to subscribe for notification by email of new/ amended electronic reports and filings submitted to the agency by filers, including candidate, political party and political action committees.

The Campaign Legal Center Legal resource on conflict of interest and campaign contribution laws and regulations

Political Moneyline CQ/Roll Call (some free resources but subscription-only for deep dives)

Followthemoney.org State-level contributions

FINANCIAL DISCLOSURES & CONFLICTS of INTEREST

Open House Official U.S. House public disclosure site, including personal financial disclosure, foreign travel, legal fund disclosure, post-House employment reports, etc.

Senate Disclosures Official US Senate public disclosure site, including personal financial disclosure, foreign travel, post-Senate employment reports, etc.

Legistorm Congressional data (some free resources but subscription-only for deep dives) 

LOBBYING

Senate disclosure database (SOPR) Searchable & downloadable SOPR records on lobbying, contributions, etc.

House disclosure database Searchable and downloadable lobbying records by lobbyist, client, country and more.

Political Moneyline CQ/Roll Call (some free resources but subscription-only for deep dives)

Lobbyists.info Lobbying firm income (some free resources but subscription-only for deep dives)

Center for Responsive Politics

Foreign lobbying

FARA foreign lobbying reports

Open Secrets foreign lobbying reports

Legistorm(some free resources but subscription-only for deep dives)

State lobbying

National Institute on Money in State Politics 

LEGISLATION & REGULATIONS

LEGISLATION

GovTrack.us Searchable and trackable from introduction through enactment, by topic, name, congressional sponsor

Congress.gov Member directory, Congressional Record, committees and legislation sponsored or co-sponsored by member

Senate site for active legislation

Legistorm

House disbursements and receipts (formerly Green Book)

Senate disbursements and receipts

REGULATIONS

Quick search Regulations.gov

Federal Register The official daily publication for rules, proposed rules, and notices of federal agencies and organizations, as well as executive orders and other presidential documents.

Government Printing Office – Federal Digital System Access to information resources produced by the federal government.

State legislation & regulations

NCSL State Legislature Website Directory has links for finding bills, statutes, testimony

FEDERAL AGENCIES

Official U.S. Executive Branch Web Sites Library of Congress

The Plum Book (U.S. Government Policy and Supporting Positions)  Listing of all presidentially appointed positions within the federal government. It is published every four years following a presidential election. Senate’s list of nominees past and present.

USA.gov Links to federal, state and local government websites

GovEngine.com Links to federal, state and local government websites

FREEDOM of INFORMATION ACT

FOIA.GOV Where/how to file public records requests by agency + more

DOJ Guide to FOIA

FOIAonline to search FOIA requests and releases by agency and/or text

Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press Open Government Guide

FOI: A Guide to Freeing Data & Documents

State and local public records

RCFP Open Government Guide to state public records laws

Backgroundchecks.org/public records links to state and local online portals

PHONE DIRECTORIES

DOINPS  USGS |  EPA | HHS:  See also CBER CDC CDRH FDA regional directors  NIH/search names by organization, NIH/search by name|IGNET (Inspectors General)| STATE  | USDA: USDA service center employee  directory  Employee locator: (202) 720-8732  USFS

REGULATIONS

See Legislation & Regulations above

SPENDING & CONTRACTING

USASpending.gov Search and download by contract, contractor, agency, year etc

Federal Procurement Data System  OR FPDS ezSearch

Grants.gov

FedSpending.org 2000-2012 compiled by OMBWatch

FedBizOpps.gov for bid requests and rfps. Searchable by agency, keyword and more. https://www.fbo.gov/

GSA Top 100 Federal Contractors

Small Business Administration and other certifications

FedSpending.org 2000-2015 compiled by OMBWatch

Federal judgment fund US Treasury. Judgment and settlement payouts, searchable by agency

AGENCY DATA

Data.gov The Home of the U.S. Government’s Open Data

Data is Plural Archive of fed, state, local, international and open data

Army Corps national levees database (searchable by zip code) and national inventory of dams

Education Department Title IX sexual assault reports – Chronicle of Higher Education

HHS National Practitioner Databank

Bureau of Justice Statistics

NOAA

Federal judgment fund US Treasury. Judgment and settlement payouts, searchable by agency

GOVERNMENT INVESTIGATIONS & REPORTS

INVESTIGATIONS & AUDITS

Inspectors general 

Government Accountability Office

REPORTS & RESEARCH

Government Printing Office – Federal Digital System Access to information resources produced by the federal government.

Congressional Research Service (202) 707-5000 CRS reports are not official released or subject to FOI. They are available through various outside aggregators:

Science.gov Links to authoritative scientific documents, reports and position papers from a variety of federal agencies.

FEDERAL COURTS & PENAL SYSTEM

PACER for U.S. court dockets, filings and decisions (free registration but 10 cents per page to view)
  • Install the RECAP extension on Chrome and Firefox and get many PACER documents for free.

Courtreference Links to all 50 states’ courts and, for each state, what kinds of cases are filed where. (Note that many states don’t have statewide searches available; you have to search county by county.)

Google Scholar (all federal court decisions; for state courts, only appellate and supreme court opinions)

SupremeCourt.gov

Scotusblog Informed commentary on Supreme Court decision

Online merits briefs at the ABA

Legal Information Institute at Cornell Legal resources and opinions

U.S. Tax Court filings

Bureau of Justice Statistics

Hall of Justice – Sunlight Foundation compilation of national and state criminal justice datasets (not being updated)

Federal Judicial Center – Provides bio, demographic data on all current and past judges and justices. (Structured data)

PRISONS

Federal inmate search 1982-present

TheInmateLocator.com

Vinelink.com local and federal custody status, criminal case information

ICE detainee list

GOVERNMENT WATCHDOGS

POGO Project on Government Oversight

CREW Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Government in Washington

Got a great link you’re willing to share?  Post it in a comment or send it to anewshawk @ gmail dot com. 

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