Scout

  • e.g. crowdfunding, intellectual property, 5 USC 552

About

Scout is a free service that provides daily insight to how our laws and regulations are shaped in Washington, DC and our state capitols.

These days, you can receive electronic alerts to know when a company is in the news, when a TV show is scheduled to air or when a sports team wins. Now, you can also be alerted when our elected officials take action on an issue you care about.

Scout allows anyone to subscribe to customized email or text alerts on what Congress is doing around an issue or a specific bill, as well as bills in the state legislature and federal regulations. You can also add external RSS feeds to complement a Scout subscription, such as press releases from a member of Congress or an issue-based blog.

Anyone can create a collection of Scout alerts around a topic, for personal organization or to make it easy for others to easily follow a whole topic at once.

Researchers can use Scout to see when Congress talks about an issue over time. Members of the media can use Scout to track when legislation important to their beat moves ahead in Congress or in state houses. Non-profits can use Scout as a tool to keep tabs on how federal and state lawmakers are making policy around a specific issue.

Early testing of Scout during its open beta phase alerted Sunlight and allies in time to successfully stop an overly broad exemption to the Freedom of Information Act from being applied to legislation that was moving quickly in Congress. Read more about that here.

Thank you to the Stanton Foundation, who contributed generous support to Scout's development.

Data

Scout was developed by Sunlight Labs and data comes from a variety of sources.

Bills in Congress

Bill text is provided by GPO, and most other information on bills comes from THOMAS. Information from THOMAS and GPO is delayed by about one day. Scout's data covers 2009 to the present.

Information on floor votes and committee hearings come directly from the official House and Senate websites. This information is updated throughout the day and should appear in Scout immediately after publication.

Notices of when a bill is scheduled for floor debate come from the House Republican Majority Leader, and Senate Democratic Caucus. This information is usually published a few days in advance and can change rapidly.

Court Opinions

Court opinions are provided by CourtListener, which is developed by the Free Law Project.

Scout currently limits court opinion search to federal appellate and special courts, and only as far back as 2009. We may expand this over time.

For more comprehensive search facilities, visit CourtListener directly to search their historical archive of opinions across hundreds of jurisdictions at the state and federal level.

Federal Regulations

Regulatory information is provided by the Federal Register, and published throughout the day. Scout's data covers 2009 to the present.

State Bills

Information on state legislation comes from Open States, a Sunlight Foundation project that publishes data on state legislative activity for all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.

This data originates from the official websites of the 50 state legislatures, and is published at various times throughout the day.

Oversight Reports

All GAO reports are sourced directly from the Government Accountability Office.

All Inspector General reports are sourced directly from their original official website, and gathered using the unitedstates/inspectors-general project.

Scout's data covers 2009 to the present.

Speeches in Congress

Speeches from the Congressional Record are provided by Capitol Words, a Sunlight Foundation project that analyzes word usage in Congress.

The Congressional Record is published by GPO once each morning and covers 1996 to the present.

Contact Us

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