The Data Center on the new California Watch website will be the place to go for searchable databases of interest in California.

We expect to build this site over time, mostly adding new databases in connection with our stories. Right now, we’re starting with an impressive array of searchable databases. Our list includes stimulus contracts, lobbying and campaign finance records, university fees, FBI crime statistics and California census statistics.

We have close to 20 searchable databases online right now. The steward of our Data Center will be Agustin Armendariz, our computer assisted reporting guru. Agustin has prepared most of the data sets available with lots of help from one of our contributors Sarah Terry-Cobo, California Watch multimedia producer Lisa Pickoff-White and Chase Davis, one of our two money and politics reporters.

If you have ideas for available electronic data that we ought to add, please drop Agustin a line.

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Mark Katches is a past editorial director for The Center for Investigative Reporting. He is currently editor of the Oregonian and vice president of content for the Oregonian Media Group. Previously, he built and ran investigative teams at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Orange County Register. Mark was the primary editor of Pulitzer Prize-winning projects in both 2008 and 2010 and edited or managed five other stories that were Pulitzer finalists. Projects he edited or directed also have won the George Polk Award, the IRE award and the Scripps-Howard National Journalism Award as well as the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting, the Worth Bingham Prize, the Sigma Delta Chi Award and the National Headliner Award. Multiplatform projects produced by CIR staff under Mark's guidance won a national News & Documentary Emmy, two Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards, a George Foster Peabody Award and an Edward R. Murrow Award. He has overseen projects or websites that have won four Online Journalism Awards in the last decade, in addition to logging more than a dozen OJA finalists. In 2001, he was part of a reporting team that won the Gerald Loeb and IRE awards for a series of stories detailing the rising profits from the human tissue trade. He completed a Punch Sulzberger Fellowship at Columbia University in 2013 and has taught reporting classes as an adjunct professor at the University of Southern California, UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism and Stanford University. Mark served on the board of directors of Investigative Reporters and Editors for four years and oversaw the IRE mentorship program for six years.