About this project
- What is this?
- Who built it?
- Who is it for?
- Where did you get your data from?
- How does the data get onto the city's data portal?
- What did you use to build it?
- Contact us
What is this?
ChicagoLobbyists.org is an open data, open government, and open source project intended to improve the transparency of interactions between the City of Chicago and lobbyists and their clients. All data comes from the City of Chicago Data Portal.
Since launching in early August 2011, we've made some headlines in the news, notably for our efforts to engage the City of Chicago on releasing more detailed lobbyist data.
- Chicago Data Apps Panel Discussion - Jan 31, 2012 on Chicago Tonight (WTTW)
- Civic startup Open City makes Chicago more transparent - Jan 26, 2012 on Medill Reports
- Interview with ChicagoLobbyists.org team - Jan 4, 2012 on Outside the Loop Radio (our follow-up blog post)
- Open data in Chicago: progress and direction - Jan 1, 2012 by John Tolva
- Can the Internet help disrupt the power of Chicago Lobbyists through transparency? - Dec 7, 2011 on govfresh
- New Web Project Simplifies City's Open Lobbying Data - Dec 7, 2011 on Chicagoist
- Mayor Emanuel's release on updated lobbyist data - Aug 30, 2011 on City of Chicago website
- Mayor Rahm Emanuel interview - Aug 30, 2011 on Chicago Tonight (WTTW) discussing updated lobbyist data
Who built it?
This is a project by Open City, a group of developers and designers based in Chicago that build civic-minded apps using open data. The co-founders are Paul Baker, Derek Eder, Chad Pry, and Nick Rougeux.
It started on July 16th, 2011 at the Google Hackathon with some amazing help from Ryan Briones, Chirag Patel, Ruthie BenDor. Paul noticed the lobbyist data, conceived the project, and got the team together. Chad and Ryan did the bulk of the backend development with help from Derek and Chirag. Derek and Ruthie did the frontend development. Nick and Paul worked on the user interface prototypes.
Who is it for?
This site is for anyone who is interested in how lobbyists interact with Chicago's government. It could be used in the following ways:
- as a resource for firms looking to hire effective lobbyists based on their performance, cost, and experience
- by lobbyists themselves to rate and compare their own performance
- by journalists as a research tool
- by citizens to who seek to understand how their local government works and to see the role that lobbyists play in it
- by the City of Chicago as a tool to comply with their lobbyist ethics ordinance (specifically the "Creation of a searchable online system for registration and reporting.")
Where did you get your data from?
All of our data came from the City of Chicago's Data Portal. Specifically, we took the following datasets from 2010:
- 2010 Lobbyist Registry
- 2010 Lobbyist Compensation Report
- 2010 Lobbyist Categorized Expenditures Report
- 2010 Lobbyist Agency Report
- City of Chicago Payments (2010 subset)
When the full dataset for 2011 is released in January 2012, we will update this site to include that data as well.
How does the data get onto the city's data portal?
According to Article 3 of the Governmental Ethics Ordinance, all lobbyists are required to register with the Ethics Board each January 20 (or within 5 business days of first engaging in lobbying activities), and file reports about their lobbying activities with the Board each January 20 and July 20.
The forms can be downloaded from the city's website, or here:
- Form A - Statement of Registration (PDF)
- Form B - Amendment to Registration (PDF)
- Form C - Activity Report (PDF)
- Form D - Lobbyist Termination Notice (PDF)
After the forms are filled out and collected for each lobbyist, they are entered by hand into an internal system by Board of Ethics staff. That data is then uploaded to the data portal as it is updated (twice a year). For more information, see the City of Chicago's lobbyist filing requirements.
What did you use to build it?
To get the data from CSV (comma separated values) on the Chicago Data Portal, we first cleaned it using Google Refine (an amazing tool for normalizing data), and Aqua Data Studio for generating the PostgreSQL import scripts.
All of the code is open source and available on github.
Who are we?
We are Open City, a group of developers and designers based in Chicago that build civic-minded apps using open data.
- Paul Baker
- President and co-founder of Webitects
- Derek Eder
- Developer at Webitects and organizer for OpenGov Chicago
- Chad W Pry
- Engineer at Groupon, Code Academy mentor, and all around charming fellow
- Nick Rougeux
- Designer and CSS wiz at Webitects