GovTrack to Shutdown API and Pass the Legislative Data Torch

GovTrack recently announced its decision to shutdown the GovTrack API. GovTrack began its mission to open legislative data to the developer community in 2005. Since its launch, GovTrack's API and bulk data project have been enormously successful. Its decision to end the project comes not from failure, but rather, massive success.

"The end of our bulk data and API is a recognition that it worked," GovTrack creator, Joshua Tauberer, said in the blog post announcement. "For instance, our data fed into Sunlight Foundation's Drumbone API in 2010, which became Sunlight's Real Time Congress API, which became Sunlight's Congress API, which became the ProPublica Congress API this year. our work in open legislative data is still living on."

The GovTrack team determined that its work raised enough awareness, and caught enough momentum for other organizations, including both private organizations and Congress itself, to keep the open legislative data movement going. Government initiatives such as the Open House Project, the Congressional Data Collection, and even government hackathons has grown to an extent that organizations like GovTrack can rely on government-provided data to power their government data products and services.

Accordingly, the groundwork laid by GovTrack and the data it has provided over the years is not going away. Rather, Tauberer and GovTrack feel comfortable that the legislative data torch is now adequately carried by others. GovTrack specifically suggests developers to check out ProPublic'as Congress API and the congress project scrapers.  Further, GovTrack has posted other helpful resources on its developer page.

GovTrack will officially shut down its API next summer (when Congress begins summer recess). Developers have roughly six months to migrate to an alternative solution. Tauberer will continue to advocate for open legislative data through his work with the congress-legislators project and the congress project. Further, GovTrack committed to publish historical legislative data that is not available through any of the government open data projects (i.e. votes from 1789, bills from 1973). 

Be sure to read the next Government article: The UK Government Releases Version 2 of its GOV.UK Notify API


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