Wresting data from local, state and federal agencies has become increasingly difficult. And few news organizations today have the resources to mount the lawsuits often needed to get public records that government agencies, by law, should make readily available. A central feature of Searchlight New Mexico will be a web portal containing vast amounts of government data and tools to make it easy for anyone to explore how their state and local tax dollars are spent, and to give academics, public interest groups and other news organizations easy access to data for reporting and research. We are in the process of gathering the data from state and local agencies across New Mexico, and already are running into heady resistance. One county insists they do not have payroll records in digital format. That begs the question: How do they pay their employees?