Company's New API Gives Access to 260K Government Contacts

Carroll Publishing has been collecting and validating government contact information and organizational charts for more than four decades. Now, it's opening that information up to developers via API.

by / November 30, 2018

Carroll Publishing, a long-standing directory of government officials and offices, has published its first API to allow developers to directly access the information.

The company, based in Bethesda, Md., has been collecting government data like organizational charts and contact information for 45 years. Consequently, its evolution has been the story of technological progress in the information age — once upon a time things were printed, and then it started giving people CDs, and then it set up a Web application. 

Now, the company has given the modern developer their favorite toy: an application programming interface (API). From that, users can query a database with federal, state, county and local governments. Sally Swan, president and chief operating officer of Carroll Publishing, said the database has about 260,000 people in it, including 117,000 at municipalities. The API traffic is encrypted through HTTPS.

“The API allows them to just plug it right into their database and just do the front end, they don’t have to worry about the back-end maintenance,” Swan said.

There are a lot of people who are willing to pay for that kind of information — including technology companies that sell to government and government officials who have a hard time finding each other.

And despite the volume, the information is collected manually.

“We’re actually one of the few directory products that’s still 100 percent human-edited,” Swan said. “We do use the Internet as a resource but nothing goes into our core contact information that isn’t … evaluated by a human editor.”

Carroll is offering two kinds of license for the API, one for internal use and one for sharing and reselling the information. The internal use license ranges from $5,000 to $38,000 per year, depending on how much data the user wants to access, and the reseller license ranges from $10,000 to $82,000. There’s a discount for small businesses with fewer than 50 employees.

That means users can turn to the API to both fill out internal databases — for example, for a gov tech company trying to sell software — and to pull government officials’ contact information into Web applications.

“We’re extremely excited because we’ve been asked about this product for a long time,” Swan said.

Ben Miller Associate Editor of GT Data and Business

Ben Miller is the associate editor of data and business for Government Technology. His reporting experience includes breaking news, business, community features and technical subjects. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, and lives in Sacramento, Calif.