Ever wondered what it would look like if Congress worked a bit more like a tech innovator in Silicon Valley? Think Congress might benefit from adopting new, creative tech tools that better connect members to constituents, help strapped Hill staff track legislation, or facilitate bipartisan dialogue among members?
These questions point to a relatively new approach to improving the way our Congress and state legislatures work. A field that has traditionally focused solely on solutions rooted in process reforms and relationship-building efforts is exploring the ways technology and digital platforms can decrease dysfunction, increase civility, and improve communication between voters and their elected officials. One of the intriguing angles of this approach, beyond the innovative power of digital platforms, is the potential to bring together experts from a variety of fields who might not otherwise meet, let alone collaborate.
The upcoming #Hack4Congress DC, the third event in a series organized by the OpenGov Foundation and Harvard’s Ash Center, is an example of this approach in practice.
#Hack4Congress DC, which the Democracy Fund is pleased to co-sponsor, will bring together designers, journalists, congressional staff, policy wonks, technologists, academics, and other experts for two days of collaborative problem-solving around specific challenges. After two days, the groups will present their work to a panel of judges.
Previous winners include MyCRS – a service that creates a safe space for offices to query data, explore the effects of controversial positions, and helps reduce dependence on lobbyists as a source of information. A unique submission that helps better connect members and their staff to constituents and their stances on important issues. You can see more of the submissions and winners from the #Hack4Congress events in San Francisco and Cambridge.
Registration for the April 29th - May 30th #Hack4Congress in Washington, DC is open —and you can submit project ideas here. The winner of #Hack4Congress will have an opportunity to present their team’s new solution for Congress to several lawmakers in late May.