New project: Tracking Obama insiders

It’s been almost one year since Obama’s inauguration — and one year since LittleSis launched. At this time last year we were scrambling to add up-to-date data about the past two presidential administrations, and the incoming one, in preparation for launch. We built lists like this, this, and this (with lots of help from our friends), and managed to include some presidential data at a time when the American presidency naturally had everyone’s attention.

It seems appropriate, approaching this anniversary, to return to this project of collecting and updating data on the Obama administration.  The release of White House visitor logs, and the awesome new tool Sunlight Foundation put together to help research the visitors (which cross-references names in the logs with LittleSis data), also seem like invitations to improve our data on the administration.

Starting today, we’ll be spotlighting Inside the Obama administration, the LittleSis research group focused on compiling accurate and up-to-date information on the current administration. Priscilla has led the group over the past few months, doing a tremendous job updating profiles for Treasury and White House officials. But there is lots more to be done, especially now that we have the visitor data to work with — we need your help!

The Obama research group will be delving deep into the White House visitor logs.  Using the logs, we’re going to build LittleSis profiles for people who have a level of White House access that indicates insider status — whether or not they are on the administration’s payroll.

Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein and JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon outside the White House after meeting with Obama in March.

To start, I pared down the enormous visitor logs to 50 people who have visited the President (POTUS) in the company of ten or fewer people. The reasoning: if a person is in a small meeting with the president, there’s a decent chance he/she is fairly powerful. I also eliminated drivers and people who came for ceremonial visits (where indicated).  I will expand this list to other visitors as we make our way through the data.

The list is in a google spreadsheet, which we’ll use to keep track of our progress.  I’ll send you the link if you join the group or drop a line.

By the one-year anniversary of the Obama inauguration, we’ll have a growing LittleSis list of powerful individuals who have visited the White House, which we can continue to update as the White House releases more data.  This will be an invaluable resource for watchdogs, journalists, and other researchers working to make sense of the logs and learn about the Obama administration.

If you’d like to join us, please send me a note or sign up, indicating your interest, and I’ll send you more details!