October 7, 2011 in Craft, Education, Policy, Resources

[] offers information on what data sets government agencies have. First of all, while governmental agencies collect a great deal of information, much of it is not available online. Nor is what is collected always publicized or well known.

This site lists what information is available. Think of it as a directory of information that’s collected by the state of Missouri. lists what data sets exists, what format the data set is in (i.e. Excel, Word document), the date the data was collected or time period which it covers, how often it is updated, any fixed cost for the database, the agency that collects the information, contact information and so forth.

Anyone can use this information, from citizens to journalists to businesses.

The site was officially launched in March 2011 and is the result of Herzog’s Donald W. Reynolds Fellowship. Herzog is a veteran investigative reporter, data journalist and educator. He teaches computer-assisted reporting (CAR) and data mapping to student and professional journalists.

The site includes an avenue to suggest additional data sets, comment on the sets and ways to use social media to share the information on the site. The site will eventually include a Sunshine letter generator to allow anyone to ask an agency to provide the information listed as available.” SourceColumbia Freelance Forum

9 responses to

  1. Just wanted to let the JA community know that we’ve submitted a Knight News Challenge open government grant application to expand OpenMissouri to our cities. If you’d like to know more, or support the application, go here: Thanks!

  2. Thanks for the mention!

    I’m happy to report that in the past couple of weeks we launched two new features for registered site users: A Sunshine request letter generator and the ability to share data with the public.

    I wanted to note one correction to the resource listing: We’re only cataloging structured (stuff in columns and rows) data, like Excel files, not Word docs.

    • This seems like a really useful resource! Are there any plans to create similar directories for other states, or one that aggregates nation-wide information?

    • Hey Aly – there are two incredibly useful resources — at the state and federal level: State data at and federal data at The first, Follow the Money, is run by smart folks at the National Institute on Money in State Politics based in Helena MT. (See on JA at Open Secrets (we’ll post on JA as a resource this coming week) is run by the Center for Responsive Politics based in WA DC. Follow the Money & Open Secrets collaborate with news channels large and small. Their staff – like Follow the Money – has a brilliant team of researchers, information advocates and deep experience in public policy. Many of their staff (across both outfits) have experience as journalists in service of open access to accurate, useful information created on the public’s behalf that gives people a tool to engage as citizens.

    • Hi Aly,

      Thanks for the kind words about OpenMissouri. We’d love it if groups in other locales launched their own data catalogs. In fact, we made our software available as an open-source project on GitHub, so developers can deploy it elsewhere and contribute to the code. (Go here:

      The Sunlight Foundation had been developing the National Data Catalog for U.S., state and city data, but they discontinued it earlier this year. I’m unaware of any similar efforts.

    • Thanks for the link, David. Do you know of any tutorials or online tools that could help someone who doesn’t have a tech team get started?

    • Unfortunately, no. You really need to have someone who can set up a server then deploy the OpenMissouri data catalog software onto that server. (Something that I don’t even know how to do, BTW). From my understanding, each server setup can present its own challenges that need troubleshooting.

      I am going to produce, in the next couple of months, a guide that will help organizations plan and launch community data catalogs like OpenMissouri.

      We’re also thinking about how we could provide the data catalog software as a service, so any group could easily create their own.

    • I like the idea of providing a platform for orgs to build their own service on.

    • Thanks again for the info! I’m looking forward to seeing the guide you’re producing — and like Jeff said, providing a platform for organizations to use sounds like a great development.

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