I met R hacker Eduardo Leoni at the DC R User Group (which is still looking for a new organizer, by the way) last month, where he gave an impromptu lightning talk on the open-government website he created in his spare time, CongressoAberto.com.br. With a name that means "Open Congress" in Portuguese, it is an independent website that aims to increase transparency and contribute to debates about the Brazilian legislature, facilitating access to information and analysis on the Brazilian political process. Naturally, the site is in Portuguese, but Google Translate does a good job of rendering the site in English for non-native speakers like me.
Much of the site is devoted to sharing official government data with Brazilians in an easily-understood format, giving insight into how and why political decisions are made. For example, Eduardo has written scripts in R that analyzes the votes on particular bills (for example, this one) and displays the legislators' votes by party and on a regional map:
Although other open-government sites exist in many countries (for example, the Sunlight Foundation here in the US), the Brazilian political system is different in that there are many important political parties instead of just two major ones. As a result, Eduardo had to create all of the analyzes and charts for Brazilian government from scratch. Luckily, the tools provided by R to scrape data from unwieldy government websites and to create color-coded maps (to name just a couple of features) make this process easier than it would be with closed-source tools.
CongressoAberto.com.br: Home Page