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White House unveils ethics.gov

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Federal officials launched March 8 a new federal website called ethics.gov, promising to provide records from seven different data sets in a searchable format.

The website pulls together data from White House visitor logs, Office of Government Ethics travel reports, Lobbying Disclosure Act data, Justice Department Foreign Agents Registration Act data, Federal Election Commission individual contribution reports, FEC candidate reports and FEC committee reports.

"Never before has this measure of government-verified data been available and so easily searchable in a centralized location," write administration officials in a March 8 WhiteHouse.gov blog post.

If the data sounds like something that would typically be housed on data.gov, that's because it is housed on data.gov. In fact, ethics.gov is a redirect link to data.ethics.gov--a micro site on data.gov.

While campaigning in 2008, the Obama-Biden ticket listed "ethics" as core element of their agenda, promising to shine light on lobbying through the creation of a central database focused on exposing special interests. In a March 8 blog post, Sunlight Foundation Policy Director John Wonderlich said this development satisfies the spirit of his campaign promises.

While the site allows keyword and name searches, Wonderlich points out is does have limits. The White House blog noted that the site is a work in progress and future developments will rely largely on user feedback.

"Neither money and politics research nor executive branch oversight are going to be revolutionized by this search page -- at least not yet," wrote Wonderlich.

For more:
- visit "ethics.gov" (data.ethics.gov)
- see the Sunlight Foundation post

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