How GovTrack is Using Crowdfunding to Create Political Transparency


When most people hear the word crowdfunding, the ones who are familiar with it,  automatically think of raising money for a film, consumer product or gadget — but crowdfunding is also being used to mobilize ideas and movements. We have seen organizations like Open Source Ecology and Outernet put forth very socially minded campaigns.

What many people do not realize is that crowdfunding is a unique marketing vehicle where agents of change can present their idea to the world in a very efficient way. Joshua Tauberer, Founder of Govtrack has an interesting concept, and is using crowdfunding to expand his business of keeping track of — and holding accountable our government officials.

The GovTrack Insider Crowdfunding Campaign

The GovTrack Crowdfunding Campaign started just a few days ago and has already raised nearly 1/3rd of its funding goal, which is a good start. Mr. Tauberers message is short, simple and to the point — help me do more of what I have been doing for the last 10 years, which is to make our government more transparent and accountable. This is a winning message that most Americans can relate to.  was started as a hobby a decade ago but has grown into a widely used tool by students, lobbyist, and concerned citizens to the tune of around 10 million people a year.  The GovTrack site is automated and generates data from official sources, but Mr. Tauberer wants to take the information and add context to it, so it is easier to understand. Legislation can be complex and difficult to fully comprehend but Govtrack wants to change that. Here is the organizations mission in their own words:

Legislative data is only the beginning to understanding what Congress does and how it works. That’s why earlier this month launched GovTrack Insider, a blog on Medium covering Congress’s daily activities. Each post on GovTrack Insider summarizes recent major legislative activity that would be hard to find just by looking at the official record. Recent posts have looked at amendments to the must-pass National Defense Authorization Act and the controversial Trade Promotion Authority(TPA).

Congress works in complex ways that make legislative activity incredibly difficult to follow, so GovTrack Insider will be a living user guide to the official record. If you were looking for the House votes on TPA, you probably wouldn’t have looked under “Concurring in portion of senate amendment preceding title II” or “Defending Public Safety Employees’ Retirement Act” — but that’s how Congress officially labeled it. GovTrack Insider will find the votes on hot topics so you don’t have to.

We’ve seen opaque and misleading legislation passed through the years and that should not be the case. In this writers opinion, having a better understanding of complicated legislation, and more transparency and accountability for our politicians, can only be a good thing for our country, and our political process. I also think that we will see more of this type of innovation moving forward and crowdfunding will play a major role in facilitating these new ideas.