Counting Up Congressional Technology Spending for 2014 – The U.S. Senate

How much does the United States Congress spend on technology and digital media?

It is a devilishly simple question, but I have yet to find a clear answer after nearly seven years working in and around the legislative branch. Finding the answer is a critical early step, however, in building an efficient, effective Congress that can fulfill its responsibilities in the 21st Century. That is something in which all Americans have a stake.

Does Congress spend the proper amount on technology? Is that money being spent on the correct technology products, vendors, and services? These are far more important questions that grow more pressing each day — constituent mail volume rose 548% between 2002-2010, while office resources to deal with it have been slashed 21% since 2011, according to the House Appropriations Committee.

This is the new normal. Yet without accurate spending information, you are stuck guessing as to the best way to deal with this new reality, whether you work on or off Capitol Hill. Moreover, those outside Congress who care about improving the legislative branch – as we do at The OpenGov Foundation – can only provide the right support at the right time to the right people in Congress if we know how and where to help.

Fortunately, groundbreaking work done by the Congressional Management Foundation, the Brookings Institution and American Enterprise Institute, the Congressional Data Coalition, the Sunlight Foundation, and others has supplied some critical pieces of the puzzle. The following is inspired by them and their vital research. If you want to build off my work, you can find source data, crunched numbers, and methodology at the end of this post.

Right now, discussions are underway on and off Capitol Hill about what direction Congress should take with technology, data and staff. No one has the answer, but there are many amazing people in and around Congress working together towards one; it is my hope that this initial analysis will contribute to these efforts.Continue Reading

Library of Congress, GPO Should Publish the Digitized Congressional Record

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Congressional Technology Fellowship Program Launches

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Congressional Open Source Technology Caucus Launches

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Open Source Software Now Permitted in the U.S. House of Representatives

Members and staff may use official resources to participate in open source projects, procure and publish open source software WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 25, 2015) — The OpenGov Foundation, the Sunlight Foundation and the Congressional Data Coalition (CDC) today announced that Members, Committees, and staff within the U.S. House of Representatives are now able to use […]

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The GovTrack Insider

Legislative data is only the beginning to understanding what Congress does and how it works. That’s why earlier this month launched GovTrack Insider, a blog on Medium covering Congress’s daily activities. Each post on GovTrack Insider summarizes recent major legislative activity that would be hard to find just by looking at the official record. Recent […]

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It’s Time for Congress to Publish CRS Reports

This morning the New York Times editorialized in favor of public access to Congressional Research Service reports. Given the extreme partisanship and gridlock in Congress, it’s more crucial than ever to have an informed electorate. Putting these reports in the public domain is an important step toward that goal. Over the years our coalition has submitted testimony […]

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Senate Preview of the Next Day’s Floor Schedule and Activity Wrap-up

While leadership for Democrats and Republicans in the House of Representatives send email floor alerts for the upcoming day’s legislative activities (and House Dems have a neat new mobile app), the Senate does not. Senate Democrats and Republicans publish on the web a daily summary of the prior day’s activities and what they expect will […]

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