Finding Data During The Government Shutdown

Reporters across the country are running into a frustrating effect of the federal government shutdown: Many .gov websites have been shuttered, blocking access to some go-to data sources such as the Census Bureau.

But there is some hope of finding the data you need. Investigative Reporters and Editors set up a tracker for reporters to contribute or find information about alternative places to find popular datasets. And IRE's NICAR Database Library remains open throughout the shutdown. (Any INN members interested in data from the library can contact me at

Check out these tips on tracking down data offered by IRE staffers Liz Lucas and Tony Schick:

In partnership with the Reynolds Journalism Institute, IRE offers free Census data to browse or download at You can also visit the Census Reporter website for more Census-related information.

NICAR maintains an array of federal datasets to keep you warm during the shutdown. Check out these favorites:

  • OSHA Workplace Safety data -- how much does OSHA get done even when they are at full staff? Look at inspection and accident records by industry, location, or business.
  • National Bridge Inventory -- this data has a wealth of information on bridges in the United States, including their status (are they structurally deficient?) and a sufficiency rating.
  • IRS Exempt Organizations -- peruse a listing of all organizations granted tax exemption by the IRS.
  • Medical Device Reports -- sift through records that includes information about problems that occurred with medical devices, including injuries, deaths and/or product malfunctions.
  • Look through the rest of the 40+ databases offered at the NICAR Database Library.

The Donald W. Reynolds Center for Business Journalism also compiled a list of alternative data sources (including NICAR data), available here. Information portals still available include EDGAR, PACER and FRED.