Site Updates

Here are a few changes that happened on GovTrack recently: Social Action links, subject terms update, Leader-Follower scores for representatives, searching by sponsorship in archival data, more maps widgets, and a new Developers section. Read on for more.

Subject Terms

: At the start of the year the Congressional Research Service, an arm of Congress that assigns the subject terms to bills that you see on GovTrack, revised the set of terms it uses. As a result, trackers on old terms that are not in the new system will no longer generate events in your Tracked Events page or email updates. You’ll see a note warning you about the problem. Unfortunately the only fix is to look for a newer term to replace it with, if there is one. (More


Social Action


is a website that scours the web for petitions and other community group actions to create social change. On bill pages we’re now linking to any community causes like petitions that are relevant for the bill. The social actions are in a blue box toward the middle/bottom of the page. Some examples:, , . You won’t see the box if no relevant community actions could be found for the bill.

Leader-Follower Scores

: We’ve added a new statistic to the pages for Members of Congress: leader-follower scores. Inspired by an idea by Joe Barillari (who I knew in college), this score looks at the sponsorship and cosponsorship patterns of Members of Congress to see if they consponsor others’ bills more than other Members cosponsor their bills, or vice versa. Basically, if Member X cosponsors Member Y’s bill but Member Y doesn’t cosponsor any of Member X’s bills, Member Y gets a point (but the actual computation is a bit more complicated). For example, see versus relative newcomer .

Bill Search & Voting Records

: You can now by sponsor or cosponsor even for bills in previous sessions of Congress. This was a long standing item on the to-do list. Also, in similar news, you can use the page to see the voting record of any Member of Congress in previous years and get vote comparisons between Members in previous years. Previously the drop-down Member lists on these pages would only show current Members of Congress even when a previous year was selected.

New Map Widget

: We have a new easier way you can embed a congressional district map on your webpage. If you bring up , there is a new Map Tools link below the map

. In addition to the other methods we’ve had, there’s now a really small code snippet that you can drop right into your webpage. (It uses an iframe

.) It’ll also remember exactly how you’ve centered and zoomed the map on GovTrack.

Developers: Finally, the site has a reorganized section. See the Dev link at the top of every page. Nothing too new, just reorganized & cleaned up.