In recent decades, digital technologies have opened up the legislative process and lowered barriers to democratic participation. Congressional staff, individuals, and interest groups learn about new legislation through sites like Congress.gov, docs.house.gov, or xml.house.gov. People can interact with their elected representatives across a multitude of channels, including Twitter, Instagram and email.
While they have made some significant achievements, particularly in the House, there are many areas in which Congress’s information technology infrastructure has struggled to keep pace. Beyond coping with the influx of external communications, congressional offices often can’t utilize the latest software or efficiently create custom solutions to help them do their jobs. This status quo is locked into place by opaque standards, dispersed governance, and misaligned incentives.
A slew of embarrassing exchanges with tech CEOs has only reinforced the perception that Congress isn’t particularly tech savvy. But there’s no good reason why Congress should fall behind on its technology, and there are renewed efforts to bring the institution fully into the 21st century. At the beginning of the 116th Congress, the House voted to create a new Select Committee for the Modernization of Congress which will focus on identifying reforms to strengthen institutional capacity and efficiency.
Our expert panel will discuss the challenges involved in modernizing Congress, its technology and digital services infrastructure, and ways in which congressional offices can get ahead of the curve.
Coffee and cookies will be provided.
Brad Fitch, President and CEO of the Congressional Management Foundation
Melissa Medina, CEO and Co-Founder of TourTrackr
Daniel Schuman, Policy Director at Demand Progress
Zach Graves, Head of Policy at Lincoln Network
Tajha Chappellet-Lanier, Technology Reporter at FedScoop (Moderator)
“Get the House in Order,” Demand Progress.
“State of the Congress: Staff Perspectives on Institutional Capacity in the House and Senate,” Congressional Management Foundation.