This video tutorial explains what government information is, what types are available to review, and how to find government information online.
Government information is often a fantastic source of information on public issues. It’s perfect for finding statistics and primary material from both current and historic time periods.
Government information includes documents, reports, maps, bills, laws, hearings, and more. These sources are issued, published, or financed by all levels of government- from international to local. Government publications cover a large variety of topics such as nutrition, crime, diseases, endangered species, immigration, and more.
All types of government entities on a federal, state, local, and international level share government information online. For example, you can find information and publications from the United Nations, the Department of Homeland Security, the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles, or the City of Henderson.
One of the easiest ways to find government information is through Google. First, brainstorm keywords related to the topic you want to learn more about. After typing your keywords into google, add: site:.gov, (“site-colon-dot-gov”)--to limit to only government sources. Let’s try it for: student loans site:.gov.
Now you will notice a wide variety of resources focusing on student loans on a federal, state, and local level, from organizations such as the IRS, the Department of Education, and state agencies.
Google is great to get lots of types of information at once, but if you want to get more specific, there are ways to do that too!
For example, you can also search for specific legislation and bills using Congress.gov
This is the official website for U.S. federal legislative information, including information on members of Congress, committees, the Congressional Record, and more. Bills are proposed legislation under consideration by Congress. To search for bills on Congress.gov, you can type in your keywords right in the search box.
You can choose “All Legislation” if you want to look at bills over the last several decades, or you can limit to current legislation to only look at the most recent.
You’ll get back results including bills talking about your topic.
If you see one that looks interesting, click on the link to find a summary of the bill and information about who sponsored it, what committee is associated with the bill, and the latest action.
Keep in mind that the government information available tends to reflect the priorities of the current administration. They may eliminate entire pages of information that had been available previously.
Live websites can be also be changed, or recontextualized, so record what you find and take screenshots. You can also access old pages through the Internet Archive if you are interested in seeing how things have changed over time.
Whether you’re looking for statistics, demographic information, current or historical bills and hearings, reports from executive departments or individual agencies, there is likely a government source that will be able to help you out.