GovTrack.us tracks the United States Congress and helps Americans participate in their national legislature.
We publish the status of federal legislation, information about your representative and senators in Congress including voting records, and original research on legislation. We’re one of the oldest government transparency websites in the world.
What you can do on GovTrack
Use GovTrack to track bills for updates by getting alerts and understand the broader context of legislation through our statistical analyses. Read our original research on GovTrack Insider and in our congressional misconduct database.
You can read more about the data we have, including how you can get it. GovTrack was the first to create comprehensive open data about Congress, and we have successfully lobbied Congress to make more and better legislative information available to the public.
Who we are
GovTrack.us is a project of Civic Impulse, LLC, a completely independent entity which is wholly owned by its operator and receives no funding in any form from outside organizations. We have no financers, sponsors, investors, or partners, nor do we have any affiliation or relationship (financial or otherwise) with any political party, government agency, or any other outside group or persons.
GovTrack.us began in 2004 and inspired the world-wide open government and open government data movements. We have testified before Congress multiple times about our work and how to make Congress a more open institution.
We’re a small organization with four part-time staff members, who are:
Joshua Tauberer, president
Joshua is the founder of GovTrack.us and created the site initially as a hobby in 2004. He is a software engineer and entrepreneur that has also been a contractor for the United States Congress and the District of Columbia municipal government on improving the publication process of the law. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.
Jesse Rifkin, staff writer
Jesse has been a staff writer for GovTrack Insider since 2016, focusing primarily on bill summaries. His writings on politics and other subjects have been published in The Washington Post, Politico Magazine, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Daily Beast, HuffPost Politics, Hartford Courant, and Billboard. Jesse's favorite pieces he's written for GovTrack Insider are: Almost Unanimous, where we asked why these lone dissenters withheld their votes on bills, Will the Constitution ever be amended again?, where we asked the man behind the Twenty-Seventh Amendment, and What the first Congress of 1789 can teach the Congress of 2017.
Ben Hammer, external relations associate
Ben is our external relations associate. He has assisted managing site content and fundraising for three years, working to find new partnerships, projects, and data. Some of his latest work includes adding congressional scorecards to Member pages and statements from legislative stakeholders to bill pages. He has a B.A. in philosophy from Carnegie Mellon University. Outside of work Ben is working on a short graphic novel about sentient candles.
Amy West, research & communications manager
Amy has been the GovTrack research and communications manager since February 2017 when she realized she didn't want to retire quite so early after all. She edits GovTrack Insider articles, posts to GovTrack social media and developed the Congressional Misconduct Database. From 1999-2015, she was a librarian at the University of Minnesota Libraries specializing in government publications and government data.
1. GovTrack.us’s mission is to help Americans participate in their government.
a. We make information about the United States Congress accessible, understandable, and actionable for public use.
b. We do this by putting the information in context, tracking new developments on issues our users care about, and helping our users take action to make a meaningful difference.
c. We actively seek out any information relevant to our mission and new ways to analyze and explain that information.
d. GovTrack.us and the information we publish will always be free to view, use, and share by anyone.
2. We are committed to integrity.
a. We know that government decisions have grave consequences, and so we carry out our work respectfully and responsibly.
b. We never misrepresent or exclude information to favor one side. We never side for or against any policy, politician, or organization — except policies that further our mission as described in this charter.
c. We do not accept grants from partisan organizations. Our advertising space is made available to all advertisers without regard to political views.
3. We are committed to democracy.
a. We believe that transparency and education are crucial for achieving equity in rights and representation for all Americans.
b. We believe that the best outcomes can be achieved not only with an informed public but also with a Congress that has the capacity to make informed decisions.
d. We love the legislative branch (i.e., Congress). That’s why we think about it so much.
|2004 Bill status alerts by email GovTrack launched in 2004 with our most fundamental feature: email alerts for legislation and lawmakers you care about. Ideology scores Our first data analysis, Ideology Scores put legislators on a chart from conservative to liberal based on their sponsorship of legislation.|
|2005 Downloadable raw data In support of other civic tech projects, we shared our downloadable data and, later, an API, for others to use to create new apps and research projects. Congressional district maps It was one of the first “Google Maps mashups” and the first interactive street-level map of congressional districts on the internet, our congressional district maps help you find your representative. (These days our maps use MapBox technology — thanks MapBox for the discount!)|
|2006 Committee assignments Our early years were spent gathering more and more legislative information into one place, including legislators’ committee assignments.|
|2007 Asked Congress for open data We went to the U.S. Capitol to ask Congress for open legislative data.|
|2008 Paragraph-level bill permalinks Bills can be thousands of pages long — use our paragraph-level links, launched in 2008, to bring your followers directly to the part of the bill you care about (example). Compare bill versions Bills can change lots during the legislative process. We give you a way to see those changes. Here’s a comparison of the introduced and passed versions of the Pallone-Thune Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act.|
|2009 It’s official In 2009, we formed Civic Impulse LLC, a company in the District of Columbia. Senate creates open data for voting records Following our path, the Senate began publishing open data for votes.|
|2010 Incorporated into the House Democrats’ intranet Our open data became a part of the House Democrats’ internal tool for keeping their caucus informed. Videos As an experiment that ran from 2010-2013, we created some videos explaining legislative issues. However, videos turned out to be unfeasibly labor-intensive to make.|
|2012 Advanced search Search by stage of the legislative process, or sponsor, or Congress, or a variety of other factors using our advanced search. Prognosis We began publishing estimates of the likelihood of bill passage in 2012 using a novel methodology we invented. Later we began publishing the scores of Skopos Labs. In 2016, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver mentioned it. Experimental state legislation tracking We try lots of things, but they don’t always work out. It turned out that there’s just too much content and variation to realistically track all 50 states. We ended this feature in 2015. Link to laws referenced in bills We began incorporating links to the U.S. Code and previously passed bills to simplify the process of understanding proposed bills. (example)|
|2013 Legislator report cards Extending the legislator statistics we started with in 2004, the report cards are much more expansive and give a more nuanced view of each legislator. Original bill summaries We began including the Library of Congress’s bill summaries in 2008, but we began writing our own in 2013. (example) We also included lightly edited summaries from the Republican Policy Committee from 2013-2018. Unfortunately, Democrats did not have a similar site to copy from, and the Republicans have stopped publishing theirs. 1,000,000 users in a month In January 2013, 1 million users visited our site — a record. Seen on TV! The McLaughlin Group and The Rachel Maddow Show both mentioned our work.|
|2015 GovTrack Insider After a successful Kickstarter, we created an independent location for our writing about bills and related subjects. Our first article was about a trade bill. One of our most recent articles was about who Congress nominates for Congressional Gold Medals. Legislator subject areas At a user’s suggestion, we created legislator subject areas based on the bills they sponsor. They’re not always what you might expect.|
|2017 Bill text incorporation Smaller bills are often passed as part of larger packages. Tracing that path can be very difficult. This feature simplifies that process for you. It also lets us give legislators credit where due that would otherwise be hidden by procedure. Here’s a link to one bill which we show incorporates 89 other bills. Advocacy organization rankings People often go to organizations that support their views to find out which politicians they believe work to their benefit. We’ve gathered a number of major advocacy organizations’ ratings of legislators so you can see them all together. Congressional Misconduct Database Congress mostly polices itself and has done so since 1789. We have gathered what we believe is the only database of all instances of Congressional Misconduct. Fact check goes national Our fact-check of President Trump’s bogus claim that he signed more legislation than anyone — in fact, it was the least — made national news. Four team members In 2017 we increased the size of our team to four regular team members. 1,500,000 users in a month In January 2017, just under 1.5 million users visited our site and 9.7 million people visited our site that year — a record. End of our open data Happily, we were able to retire our open data and API because Congress created their own and other organizations created similar APIs.|
|2018 Pronunciation guide Perhaps you too had thought that former Rep. Goodlatte’s name was pronounced like the coffee drink. It is not. Our guide can be very helpful if you’re calling your representative for the first time! Our 500,000th registered user The 500,000th person to sign up for email updates registered this year.|
|2019 Testified before Congress On May 10, 2019, GovTrack.us founder Joshua Tauberer testified before the House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress on the subject of transparency. Bill study guides Every bill page now features a unique set of questions to help you understand the bill, under the “study guides” tab. These questions can be used in the classroom to guide discussion about a bill, or can be helpful templates for what to ask when you call your representatives. Impeachment.guide We launched a spin-off site Impeachment.guide to track the chronology and charges in the impeachment of President Trump.|
|2020 Let’s see what the future holds this year!|
Help us open government
Join the movement to make our government more open and effective. Here are some ideas:
- Join your local Code for America Brigade. Check it out even if you are not a coder.
- Read the Declaration on Parliamentary Openness, an international declaration.
- Read Civic Tech Thoughts and Open Government Data: The Book by GovTrack’s founder on the open government and open government data movements.