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Federal Election Commission

Easy-to-use campaign data

Screenshot of the FEC data explorer with stylized magnifying glass.

Project details

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) regulates how money is raised and spent in federal elections.

The FEC has published campaign finance data for decades, but its legacy website was hard to use. They wanted to make it easier for anyone to use FEC data to learn how money flows through federal campaigns.


  • One of our first steps was to improve access to the FEC’s data archives. We built and launched a public API (application programming interface). This API allowed users to access data in a predictable way.
  • We then launched a public beta site ( and conducted research with users. Their feedback helped us build features we knew users wanted. Our iterative development process allowed us to continually improve the site and ship new features every two weeks.


  • We worked closely with FEC teams to help them transform their whole approach to interacting with the public online.
  • FEC saw the benefits of working iteratively and putting user needs first. They asked us to work with them to solve other problems, including:
    • Creating search tools so laws, regulations, and enforcement actions are easier to find and use
    • Migrating confusing legacy content into a new structure so visitors can find the information they need
    • Exploring how to update the online filing process to help political groups and candidates file the right forms

We engaged with 18F, and it was a game-changer for us. They came in and helped the IT team and business owners get involved in the agile development process. It changed our whole methodology.
—Alec Palmer, FEC’s Chief Information Officer

We didn’t know where to start, but in the end, we got so much more than a website. We had a complete culture change about how to do user-centered design and agile.
—FEC product owner
  • The new

    Last week, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) unveiled their new website at This new site is the result of a years-long collaboration with GSA’s 18F and features completely revamped tools for exploring campaign finance data.
  • The life-changing magic of writing release notes

    A key part of agile development is constantly shipping new features. With so many changes happening to the product, it can be hard to keep track of how the product is growing and improving. Release notes help keep everyone on the team in the know about what’s shipping, give a clear list of features to check, and help always frame our work in terms of the value it delivers to users.
  • Get the most juice out of the squeeze

    Through analytics and moderated sessions, we can learn what user goals are and enhance the platform to help them achieve those goals. By creating universal search across legal resources, people will be able to locate information more efficiently. This tool will allow them to better understand and comply with campaign finance laws, thus helping advance the FEC's mission.