Yesterday, House Minority Whip Steny Hower (D-MD) gave an interesting speech on renewing the American people’s faith in government. He ticked off four major areas for reform: campaign finance reform, voting rights, redistricting reform, and government technology.
While there’s a lot to digest in his speech, I want to highlight the part that concerns government technology.
We need to develop a technologically modern and inclusive system of civic engagement.
Americans are now accustomed to accessing information, products, and services quickly and reliably online from private companies. But when it comes to government, nobody expects the same quality, speed, or responsiveness. That needs to change.
For this reason, I’ve introduced the Information Technology Modernization Act. My bipartisan bill would launch an innovative and cost-saving Information Technology Modernization Fund to modernize government technology and strengthen cybersecurity. With a one-time, $3 billion investment in the Fund, we could finance $12 billion in technology upgrade projects over the first ten years. Imagine how much more efficient and effective our government would be if government technology systems made use of the same best practices as the private sector.
We need to make sure that federal departments and agencies are as connected and adaptive as possible. And we need to make certain they are protected against cyber threats. Americans won’t trust government to help if they don’t trust its systems to protect their private data.
But it goes beyond investing in better technology infrastructure. One of the ideas we heard during the Make It In America hearings, from Rep. Derek Kilmer, was for the General Services Administration to create a site where citizens could go online to rate and review agencies and offices. Rep. Ron Kind has been instrumental in this effort. Think of it as a “Yelp” for government. And Rep. Suzan DelBene has introduced legislation to authorize the U.S. Digital Service for ten years. Along with the innovative 18-F Group, it has been at the forefront of introducing the latest advances from Silicon Valley into government tech.
We’re already working on technology reforms for the legislative branch. I’ve been proud to lead a bipartisan effort, along with Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, to improve the House’s use of technology. We’ve hosted “hackathons,” where we’ve invited programmers, coders, and tech companies to come to Capitol Hill and devise new ways to use legislative data and share it with the American people. And last year, my office unveiled “Whip Watch,” an innovative app to provide live updates on House Floor action.
— Written by Daniel Schuman