: Bob in New FEC Disclosure Projects
: 01:15PM Feb 01, 2011
We've started work on several projects for the 2012 election cycle. Take a look at this list and let us know if we've missed something important or if you have ideas about anything you see here. We plan to have several of these ready for the April quarterly filings this year while others (presidential campaign summaries, more itemized data files) may take a little longer.
- We're continuing to work on new data sets for the catalog. At the top of the list is a set of files that will (eventually) replace the standard files on our FTP server. We're thinking specifically of contributions from individuals to any organization that files with us (e.g. indiv10.zip), contributions and expenditures by committees that are directed at candidates (e.g. pas210.zip) and any transactions where an entity registered with us is involved as both the filer (the one reporting the transaction) and also the recipient or other party to the transaction (e.g. oth10.zip). Our plan is first to duplicate the transactions that appear in these files right now on the FTP server but adding additional information (e.g. separating occupation and employer fields) and offering format choices for download (XML, CSV, etc.).
- We know this is really important, but it also represents big technical challenges for us. We're looking at lots of alternatives for searching and distributing very large files (millions of rows) and while we're making progress we haven't settled on a single approach yet.
- Should we change the definitions of what's included in these files? For example, do we still need to separate individuals in their own file or should there just be a file with all detailed receipt transactions?
- We're also working on a couple of new processes to help search and visualize data from the reports we receive. This is our attempt to find something for PACs and Parties that works as well as the maps do as a basic navigational tool for campaigns.
- One example is a graphical summary of PAC or Party financial information that would be a starting point for searching through different subsets of committees or viewing information about one specific committee. For example, we might use bar graphs do display summary information about the receipts or disbursements of different sets of PACs (e.g. Corporate or Labor sponsored PACs, Independent Expenditure Only PACs, etc.) with links that would lead to summaries for single committees or groups of PACs.
- Any thoughts on how we might do this?
- We're also creating some new summaries for Presidential campaigns. In 2008 we offered summaries of receipts and disbursements for each specific report - e.g. total contributions by state or total operating expenditures by purpose. This year we're building similar summaries for each full campaign, not just for a single report. (These don't really become important until July when we might have the second report from at least some Presidential campaigns.)
- We're also building a new process that combines the "View/Download Electronic Filings" and "View Images of all Finance Reports" menu options so all of the filings and options for viewing and/or downloading information will appear in one listing. (We expect to have this implemented by April.)
- We're also building new Presidential and Congressional maps for 2012. Keep in mind that Congressional district boundaries will be redrawn this year, so the Congressional map will be changing as states complete their redistricting processes. (These will be ready for the April 15, 2011 filings.)
- We're also going to add electioneering communications to our "real-time" data offerings, with a system similar to the one we developed for independent expenditures in 2010. (Not as much time pressure here - as pre-primary windows won't open until around the end of 2011.)
We're happy to hear from you with ideas for any of these or different data projects you think we should be working on in this cycle.