Monday, June 3, 2013

Can IT Cure Congress? | MIT Technology Review

This article makes me very sad. With the elimination of the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment in 1995 and the massive staff cuts to the Congressional Research Service and GAO as well as Congress itself (House, Senate), Professor Saloma's hopes are but a pipe dream.  He prognosticated, in 1968, that IT development will allow a future congressman to ...

[sit] at a console in his office poring over computer print-outs into the late evening hours or over the weekend and cutting through the paper arguments and justifications of executive programs with penetrating lines of questions. ... In situations that invite adversary argument, alternative positions and points of view will be more thoroughly developed and cogently presented.

What we've seen instead is the rise of partisan think tanks that have their own particular brew of "facts," and Member of Congress who lack the resources to perform (or have performed for them) many of the basic analyses that would enable them to do their jobs.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

3 Federal #HackForDC Ideas From a Non-Coder

Today, the National Day of Civic Hacking, I am at home, taking care of my 7-month old, having given up my ticket to #hackfordc so that someone else can meet the cool folks I’ve had the pleasure of working with over the years. Even as I struggle through Learn Python the Hard Way, I am reminded that you don’t have to be a coder to contribute.

In that spirit, here are 3 project ideas that make use of congressional information.