Public data is everywhere, collected by government agencies, advocacy groups, news organizations and an ever-expanding set of specialty sites. But that data is online in too many different locations to easily search.
The Accountability Project is an effort to cut across these data silos and give journalists, policy professionals, activists and the public at large a simple way to search huge volumes of public data about people and organizations.
We've standardized public data on a few key fields by thinking of each dataset row as a transaction, focusing on parties to the transaction, date and the amount of money involved. The name search can be thought of as a search for parties we identified in a public record. Each party might include a name of either a person or an organization as well as an address. The name search returns the number of name-address combinations that match the search terms and the dataset in which they appear.
Clicking on the results found on the name search page will bring you to the dataset search page. The dataset search results shows all the standardized fields from a row that a transaction party was involved in. The dataset search also shows all individual rows; the name search doesn't display this level of detail.
We've curated hundreds of datasets we think are most relevant -- but thousands more are just out of reach. If you know of a dataset that you think belongs here, suggest it for inclusion. We're especially interested in the data that agencies have hidden behind "search portals" or state legislative exemptions. Have you scraped a gnarly records site? Share it with us and we'll credit you. More important, other people may benefit from your hard work.
Our search is powerful but limited to names and addresses. To provide a more powerful way to explore some of our data we've begun using Datasette, an exciting technology from news developer Simon Willison that allows end users to run raw sql queries against databases. Read more about them here.
Thanks to our partners who have helped us gather data and inform users about this project.
Project team: Jacob Fenton, developer; Jennifer LaFleur, project manager and data editor; Megan Gayle Crigger, designer; Cole Goins, engagement lead; Kiernan Nicholls, Dariya Tsyrenzhapova and Yanqi Xu, data reporters. Contributors: Kimberly Cataudella, Madeleine Davison, David Herzog, Marisa Iati, Morgan Krakow, Sidney Madden, Taylor Perse, Kara Tabor and Braeden Waddell. The Investigative Reporting Workshop executive editor is Charles Lewis. Lynne Perri is the Workshop's managing editor.