“Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right and a desire to know;” John Adams
Trying to research and review all of the information that the government releases on any particular topic can be overwhelming. Add in trying to stay up to date on current happenings in the government generally, and you have a recipe for information overload. I recently discovered a resource that wants to be the one stop for all unedited government media, news, statements, and information releases: Voxgov.com. (Hollis number 013924920)
Ranging from the official releases of agencies to personal tweets of elected officials, Voxgov.com strives to capture and make sense of the thousands of ways our government tries to communicate with us. Their website says their mission is “to become the established site of record for unedited media, news and information from all official government sources, providing reliable and comprehensive value-added access to government communications.”
Content sources searched include information from more than 10,000 web locations:
- Press Releases, News, Notices
- Columns, Articles, Op-Eds, Blogs
- Decisions, Opinions, Orders
- Events, Media Advisories, Fact Sheets
- Newsletters, Bulletins, Circulars
- Alerts, Reports, Publications
- Speeches, Statements, Remarks
- Testimony Transcripts
Sometimes described as a “discovery engine,” the Voxgov.com home page gives you a simple, Google-like search box where you can immediately search the government’s releases on any topic – search “VW,” for example, to find releases from agencies, members of Congress, or the administration about the recent emissions scandal or “Benghazi” to find out who was tweeting during Secretary Clinton’s hearings. Researching the debate surrounding Planned Parenthood funding? Voxgov.com will help you find key proponents and opponents – and what they are saying.
The advanced search page gives you more control of the results. Simply tick off the boxes to limit your search to Congressional documents, for example, or exclude social media sources. There is a way to limit your searches to statements and documents by party affiliation, gender, branch of government, and even those people running for president, a handy tool as we head into 2016!
While viewing results, Voxgov.com suggests new searches and highlights key people, keywords, places and organizations that may be helpful to review. Your search terms are also highlighted for easy scanning and context review.
One of the coolest features, IMHO, is the compare feature. Any search you do is automatically displayed in a graph illustrating how two groups over time have released information on your topic. The default is House Republicans vs. House Democrats, but options are available to change that and view how two individuals or other groups compare on the topic.
Take a look and explore how your representatives have responded to topics in the news, or research a government agency’s statements on current events in their area of authority. If you get stuck or lost, Voxgov.com has a handy “Ask a Librarian” link to one of their experts, and of course, you can always contact us here in the Harvard Law Library.