rockinest research sites

We've spent so many hours trawling the internet in search of dependable facts and analysis, we thought we'd share the fruit of our brain-frying labor. This, obviously, is not a comprehensive list of all the great fact and policy sites out there, but it's the best of what we've found so far. If you know of other sites we should add, let us know. We've also included some sites that, like citizenJoe, aim to connect people to the government (just because we think they're cool).

General research

From the man...

cJ was surprised to find that, when it comes to getting straight facts and good nonpartisan information, the blow-all-competitors-out-of-the-water best source of info is, we kid you not, the US government. If you like stats, you'll be happy to know your tax dollars are being spent to fund countless reports, surveys, number crunchers and websites on every imaginable policy topic. Here are the best sources to start with:

for stats:

  • The US Census can't be beat. Check out their homepage or go directly to their it-doesn't-get-more-comprehensive-than-this data treasure trove - the Statistical Abstract of the United States.

  • The CIA factbook gives an at-a-glance view of US stats with one click to compare to all the other nations in the world.

  • is the Obama administration's portal for organizing and opening up federal stats.

nonpartisan analysis:

  • Congressional Budget Office - one of Congress' research and reporting wings. It's not so user friendly and is pretty wonky but - after using their search to find what you're looking for - you'll see their reports are surprisingly clear. As their name suggests, they look at budget matters and other big economic

  • Government Accountability Office - Congress' other reporter, keeping an eye on how governmental programs are running. Ditto comments from CBO.

  • Congressional Research Service - Yes, another Congress research outfit. The wonkiest of them all. These guys don't have their own website, but their reports are posted by other agencies.
    OpenCRS is an independent organization that tries to collect their reports on one site.

CitizenJoe-like sites

  • focused on facts and policy

    • Public Agenda - surveys, issue guides and facts galore on major policy issues

    • - checks and debunks facts connected to what the major political players are saying

    • Two solo jobs that really impressed us: Newsbatch for background and facts, and BalancedPolitics for issue pros & cons

  • focused on Congress, bills and citizen participation

    • - to write your reps

    • Congressional Quarterly and NationalJournal
      - citizenJoe.orgs for the professionals. They cost a fine fee to access
      all their info (CQ has a free daily alert), but we thought we'd list
      them anyway.

    • Govtrack - track the bills that interest you and other goodies

    • OpenCongress brings together bill tracking, blogging and info on our reps - in a nice package.

    • WashingtonWatch is a solo operation, put together by a Cato director, with a special eye on the cost of legislation.

  • focused on citizens exchanging ideas

  • other stuff

    • GovSpot - for all your government non-policy needs

    • Vote Smart - tracks the voting records of the folks in office

Random stats sites

Think tanks



Somewhere in between

  • Brookings - a little left of center

  • Cato - fiscally conservative, but socially liberal

  • The Independent Institute - unpredictable views

  • New America Foundation
    - respected for its combo of right and left thinking, but its site doesn't lay out articles in an easy to find way (best bet: look under "programs" and not "articles")

  • RAND - although it has a burnished conservative history, RAND is one of the most respected research operations around
  • Rockefeller Institute - with a focus on the role of states

On the issues...


Crime and Justice


Energy & the Environment





Jobs & the Economy

Money & finance

National Security

The states