Welcome to the blog at data.fec.gov! This is the place where we'll try to help you through the mechanics of using FEC information, give you updates on progress and our plans for the future, ask for your help as we think about and develop new disclosure tools, and where you can share ideas and techniques for working with data from the Commission.
I'll be posting whenever we have new information and when we have questions we'd like your help with. I also think of this as a place where we can answer specific questions about the substance and structure of data, the way we process material and make it available, and anything new that comes up along the way. For example, take a look at our new data page and let us know what you think. Are there other file formats that would be useful? Have you looked at a specific file and clicked the "customize data" button? What do you think? Are there other ways for us to help focus your data needs?
We have a long list of files we intend to add to this list - including campaign and PAC/party summaries, campaign expenditure details, bundling details and files that are similar to the ones we've been posting at ftp.fec.gov/FEC/ for many years. Anything else you'd like to see in this way?
Back in the day (I'm old, as some of you know) we did this work on the phone, and that worked for people who took the initiative to contact us and work through the bureaucracy to find answers to their specific questions. But that knowledge wasn't shared very well, and as time and technologies changed it became less and less acceptable as a tool for giving everyone meaningful help. So, we're trying this as another tool, and it may or may not work the way we hope. We hope you'll use the comments section to ask questions and make suggestions and share information that will help everyone understand what we're doing. We'll try to use new posts to give answers, ask questions, and expand the conversation. If this isn't the best tool, we hope you'll suggest other alternatives that might prove more useful. The first principle here is that we're all in this together, and our success is contingent on yours.
We're going to moderate comments, with these basic standards. First, keep it civil - you can complain about the shortcomings of the products and services you get here in ways that are direct and convey your frustration - that's fair, but it can be done with language that's professional, so we won't publish comments that contain vulgar language, personal attacks or offensive terms that target specific groups. Second, stay on the subject - there are lots of places to express political views and comment on other subjects, but we're focused on the techniques of campaign finance disclosure here. Finally, no selling. Though we hope that this process helps you use FEC information more easily and appropriately, we're not endorsing or promoting products and services.
You can find out about other blog policies here.
So it begins -- we'll start with a couple of posts about some new tools and techniques we're launching now - let us know what you think.