The Sunlight Foundation officially launched Scout, a new free, online alert system that demonstrates how legislation and regulations are shaped in Washington, D.C. and in state capitols. The service allows users to create customized email or text alerts on actions Congress takes on an issue or a specific bill. It also makes it easy to search federal regulations and track bills in all 50 states (a first).
Scout saves your subscriptions and sends notifications via email or text message whenever the subscribed issue or bill is talked about in Congress, mentioned in the Federal Register or comes up in state legislation. The website covers a variety of sources including the Congressional Record, THOMAS, GovTrack, the Federal Register and Sunlight’s Open States project to create legislative news searches about issues a person, company or non-profit cares about. Users can also complement a Scout subscription by adding optional external RSS feeds, such as press releases from a member of Congress or an issue-based blog. The Sunlight Reporting Group also built a tool for people to receive Federal Election Commission campaign finance filing updates via Scout.
“When the site was in public beta just a few weeks ago, Scout alerts helped Sunlight and other non-profits deliver results on Capitol Hill around a piece of legislation we were following,” said Ellen S. Miller, co-founder and executive director of the Sunlight Foundation. “We created Scout as a way for researchers, the media, NGOs and others to have a simple and free way to get daily insights about how elected officials take action on issues they care about.”