The Office of Majority Leader of the House of Representatives Steny Hoyer, D-Md., is pushing for Congress to better prioritize digital technologies and keep pace with the evolving world.

Speaking during today’s House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress hearing on modernizing the innovation cycle, senior advisor to Rep. Hoyer, Stephen Dwyer pushed for Congress to do more on innovation.

“I commend the Modernization Committee for your efforts on Congressional technology to date, as you have already made many substantial recommendations in this area,” said Dwyer. “And I commend the institutional offices that have greatly accelerated progress in this area over the past few years, including the Chief Administrator’s Office (CAO), the House Clerk, the Library of Congress, the Government Printing Office (GPO), and the House Administration Committee (CHA), but much more should be done.”

Among solutions the majority leader’s office provided include:

  • Encouraging the improvement of operations for each Congressional office while having centralized offices, such as CAO, help facilitate and scale any innovation;
  • More collaboration between legislative branch offices and agencies;
  • Establishing a group with the authority to oversee all digital infrastructure of Congress;
  • Give the Bulk Data Task Force (BDTF) more direct authority to lead Congress in areas of data and IT;
  • Give the House Digital Service (HDS) a broad mandate to allow it to grow and expand as it matures;
  • Have HDS and BDTF work together to help make decisions, with HDS overseeing the implementation of those decisions;
  • Revamp the cloud approval process; and
  • Modernize constituent communications with Congress.

Melissa Medina, CEO of TourTrackr, also spoke during the hearing about how modernizing Congress can help new technologies and applications succeed.

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“I respect and understand that the House has high standards for new tech approval. Protecting security and personal identifiable information (PII) are critical to ensure the integrity of the institution,” said Medina. “That said, upholding those priorities and creating a welcoming environment for new tech products can be done simultaneously.”

Medina suggested that Congress should develop a process for evaluating and working with small businesses, vendors, and start-ups; allow new companies to submit unsolicited tech proposals for review and approval; and clearly define a process for new submissions while maintaining security protocols and structures.

Additionally, the House should designate a point of contact for new tech submissions and consider working with the Senate to align approval standards and processes for new vendors.

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.