Ever wished you could get an email or text message alert every time somebody in Congress introduces a bill that affects one of your priority issues? Or that whenever somebody in Congress or in a state legislature mentions that issue? Or a federal or state regulatory agency issues a new rule on your issue?
Thanks to the transparency fanatics working away day and night in the digital skunkworks at the Sunlight Foundation, there is now a way to do that. It's called Scout and it's a free online alert system. Here's how Sunlight's Ellen Miller describes it:
“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 Miller, who is 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.”
Intrigued, I clicked over to Scout earlier today and did a search on the term "Particulates." No particular reason, I just thought of that word, knowing that it's frequently used in government in places like the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Well, the first thing that came up was an entry telling me that just this past Friday EPA approved a new rule designed to allow manufacturers of emergency vehicles like ambulances and fire trucks to modify them in ways that allow them to do their work more efficiently without interfering with emissions.
Or, to put it more succinctly, to establish a process by which EPA can rapidly approve modifications to said vehicles to make them faster without having to go back through the agency's entire vehicle emissions approval process.
At least that's what it appears to mean. The point is, without the alert from Scout, I might well not have known anything at all about EPA's action.
If you want to know what your government is doing, it's worth checking out, which you can do right here.