Category Archives: Websites/Databases/Blogs

State and Local Government Finance and Employment Data Visualization

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Press release, CB18-TPS.10, February 15, 2018

The U.S. Census Bureau today released the State and Local Government Snapshot, a new data visualization that allows users to explore the revenues, expenditures and employment of state and local governments. It combines several years of data from multiple government surveys in one place. Despite the robust amount of data, the format makes it clear and easy to understand. The visualization is customizable to allow users to access exactly the topics they are most interested in.

How to explore networks and entity metadata in the Offshore Leaks Database

Source: Cecile S. Gallego, International Consortium of Investigative Journalists blog, January 16, 2018

This is the second part of a three-part series on ways to search our Offshore Leaks Database that now includes more than 680,000 entities from 55 secrecy jurisdictions. The first installment was How to search the Offshore Leaks Database by location.

The Offshore Leaks database displays networks of entities and individuals that can be challenging to navigate. Here are a few tips on how to make sense of those networks and all the information you can get out of the data we have made public.

State Economic Monitor

Source: Urban Institute, Updated November 2017

The State and Local Finance Initiative’s State Economic Monitor tracks and analyzes economic and fiscal trends at the state level. Its interactive graphics highlight particular differences across all 50 states and the District of Columbia in employment, earnings, housing, and taxes.

Sections
Each section is updated when new data are released. Updated November 2017
Employment
Earnings
Housing
Taxes
Historical

IssueVoter

Source: IssueVoter, 2017

How it Works
1. Receive alerts before bills pass
Choose the issues you care about & get alerts about relevant new bills. IssueVoter summarizes them, and offers pros, cons, and related news for context, keeping you informed year-round.
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2. Send your opinion directly to your rep
With 1-click, IssueVoter lets your Rep know how you want them to vote on bills, without you having to pick up the phone or mail a letter.

3. Track your rep’s votes and bill outcomes
Your private IssueVoter profile tracks how often your elected officials vote your way, keeping politicians accountable and helping you make an informed decision at election time.

Before IssueVoter

  • Bills are hard to research and understand
  • Contacting your rep requires snail mail, picking up the phone, or filling out long forms online
  • Petitions don’t work and you never discover the outcome
  • Issues you care about are scattered across multiple single-issue organizations
  • After IssueVoter

  • Bills are summarized, along with pros, cons, and recent news
  • IssueVoter tracks your rep’s votes, bill outcomes, and how often you agree
  • Send your opinion directly to your rep in just 1-click
  • Act on all the issues you care about in one place
  • More Machine Learning About Congress’ Priorities

    Source: Jeremy B. Merrill November 20, 2017

    We keep training machine learning models on Congress. Find out what this one learned about lawmakers’ top issues.

    Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is a tax wonk ― and most observers of Congress know that. But knowing what interests the other 434 members of Congress is harder.

    To make it easier to know what issues each lawmaker really focuses on, we’re launching a new feature in our Represent database called Policy Priorities. We had two goals in creating it: To help researchers and journalists understand what drives particular members of Congress and to enable regular citizens to compare their representatives’ priorities to their own and their communities.

    We created Policy Priorities using some sophisticated computer algorithms (more on this in a second) to calculate interest based on what each congressperson talks ― and brags ― about in their press releases…..

    U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Public Portal

    Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), November 2017

    From the press release:
    Today the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) launched an EEOC Public Portal to provide online access to individuals inquiring about discrimination.

    “This secure online system makes the EEOC and an individual’s charge information available wherever and whenever it is most convenient for that individual,” said EEOC Acting Chair Victoria A. Lipnic. “It’s a giant leap forward for the EEOC in providing online services.”

    The EEOC Public Portal allows individuals to submit online initial inquiries and requests for intake interviews with the agency. Initial inquiries and intake interviews are typically the first steps for individuals seeking to file a charge of discrimination with EEOC. In fiscal year 2017, the EEOC responded to over 550,000 calls to the toll-free number and more than 140,600 inquiries in field offices, reflecting the significant public demand for EEOC’s services. Handling this volume of contacts through an online system is more efficient for the public and the agency as it reduces the time and expense of paper submissions.

    The new system enables individuals to digitally sign and file a charge prepared by the EEOC for them. Once an individual files a charge, he or she can use the EEOC Public Portal to provide and update contact information, agree to mediate the charge, upload documents to his or her charge file, receive documents and messages related to the charge from the agency and check on the status of his or her charge. These features are available for newly filed charges and charges that were filed on or after Jan. 1, 2016 that are in investigation or mediation.

    Five EEOC offices (Charlotte, Chicago, New Orleans, Phoenix and Seattle) piloted the new system for six months. Feedback from the public and the EEOC pilot offices led to improvements in the system for this nationwide launch.

    The new system does not permit individuals to file charges of discrimination online that have not been prepared by the EEOC or to file complaints of discrimination against federal agencies…..

    MapLight – Data

    Source: Maplight.org, 2017

    MapLight tracks several data sets that you can search for evidence of money’s influence on politics.

    CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS
    Top contributions from major donors to congressional politicians.

    CONGRESSIONAL BILLS
    Bills paired with contributions, positions taken by special interests, and vote results.

    LEGISLATORS
    Profiles of elected officials with campaign finance statistics.

    LOBBYING
    See how much money companies and interest groups spend trying to influence lawmakers.

    BULK DATA SETS + APIS
    Use MapLight’s data for your own research or software project.

    For Liberty, Justice, and Equality: Unions Making History in America

    Source: University of Maryland Libraries, 2017

    Labor unions were created by workers to protect their rights. Less recognized is labor’s role in advancing civil liberties, social justice, and economic equality for all Americans.

    The labor movement has always supported the quest for economic justice, including demands for an eight-hour workday and a living wage. From the beginning of the 20th century, organized labor has championed religious freedom and the evolving demands of the environmental movement. By the end of the century, the labor movement consistently promoted international human rights.

    In contrast, people of color, women, immigrants, and the LGBTQ community faced exclusion, segregation, and discrimination by unions. These groups created their own organizations, fought for inclusion, and pushed the labor movement to broaden its central principles of liberty, justice, and equality. In the 21st century, organized labor has become an advocate for the rights of all these communities, including anti-discrimination and civil rights legislation, marriage equality, and protections for undocumented workers.

    This exhibit explores the American labor movement’s contributions to social progress using documents, images, videos, and artifacts from the Labor History Collections within the Special Collections and University Archives at the University of Maryland Libraries.

    Violation Tracker – September 2017 update

    Source: Good Jobs First. September 19, 2017

    From the press release:
    An expansion of Violation Tracker, the first public database of corporate crime and misconduct in the United States, now makes it possible to access details of cases ranging from the big business scandals of the early 2000s during the Bush administration through those of the Trump administration to date. …. The expansion nearly doubles the size of Violation Tracker to 300,000 entries, which together account for more than $394 billion in fines and settlements. As a measure of how corporate crime is concentrated within big business, 95 percent of those penalty values were assessed against only 2,800 large parent companies whose subsidiaries are linked together in the database. Approximately 200,000 smaller businesses account for the remaining five percent of the dollar total. ….

    Related:
    Agency Data Sources
    User Guide and Webinar
    Update Log