Second Congressional Hackathon a Great Success

On Friday, the House of Representatives held its second Congressional Hackathon, co-hosted by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer.InHackWeTrust flag

The major, unstated purpose of the hackathon was to bring people together to sustain the effort to modernize technology in congress. The hackathon did exactly that, gathering congressional staff, legislative support staff, and members of the public to build those relationships in a constructive atmosphere. It was an incredible success.Continue Reading

House Open Source Caucus Launch Event

As we previously discussed, there’s a new Open Source Technology Caucus launching in the U.S. House of Representatives. And there’s a launch party tomorrow! Details from our friends at the OpenGov Foundation:

Please join The OpenGov Foundation in celebrating the official launch of the House Open Source Caucus, led by Congressmen Jared Polis and Blake Farenthold. The Open Source Caucus has been leading the way in incorporating new open source technology in the House of Representatives since June’s announcement that, for the first time, Members, Committees, and staff within the House of Representatives are permitted to use and contribute to open source software.

We are excited to support the Open Source Caucus in their work, and invite you to celebrate their strong start.

WHEN
WHERE
Innovation House – 21 D St. SE Washington, DC 20003

RSVP: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/house-open-source-caucus-launch-tickets-19060357041

More info on Congressional Hackathon

Today Reps. Hoyer and McCarthy released more information on the upcoming Congressional Hackathon. Here is the press release. The Congressional Data Coalition will be hosting a happy hour afterward.


 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD-5) and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA-23) today announced details of the upcoming Second Congressional Hackathon that will take place next week on Friday, October 23, 2015 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm in the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.Continue Reading

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

At a meeting in April, the Government Publishing Office announced its collaboration with the Library of Congress to digitize all bound volumes of the Congressional Record from 1873-1998. The Congressional Record is the official record of the proceedings and debates of the United States Congress.

The digitization project is pursuant to a 2010 Joint Committee on Printing letter. GPO explained at the April meeting that it had digitized all of the volumes and the “[Library Services and Content Management business unit] was in the acquisitions process for the next step of reviewing the digital content and creating descriptive metadata.”

GPO and the Library should release the digitized volumes now. Even without metadata, the Congressional Record could be searched and put to other uses. Other digitization projects concerning documents held by the Library have taken years while descriptive metadata was created. By contrast, a volunteer-led effort to create descriptive metadata for the Statutes of Large took a matter of months and cost the government nothing. Continue Reading

Congressional Technology Fellowship Program Launches

Travis Moore and New America’s Open Technology Institute announced the creation of TechCongress, a new fellowship program that places technologists in congressional offices. It will launch in 2016, and they are actively seeking applicants.

This is a great initiative with tremendous promise.

Join Us for a Reception Following the Congressional Hackathon

Join the Congressional Data Coalition, the R Street Institute, Demand Progress, and the OpenGov Foundation for a reception at Google DC following the Congressional Hackathon.

WHEN: Friday, October 23, at 5:30 pm

WHERE: 25 Massachusetts Ave NW, 9th Floor, Washington, DC

RSVP: https://congressdata.splashthat.com/