Can Congress Work Like A Tech Startup?

from the as-long-as-they-don't-drop-vowels dept

We've discussed a few times in the past Rep. Darryl Issa's Madison platform for crowdsourcing ideas around legislation. Over the last few months he's used it to create a productive discussion around the OPEN Act, the more reasonable alternative to SOPA/PIPA, and also used it to post the text of ACTA for discussion. While the platform may need some tweaking and advancement, it's still quite a feat to see someone in Congress actually innovating, and that should be encouraged. Joshua Lamel -- who admits that he's politically at the other end of the spectrum from Rep. Issa -- has a really nice profile of how Issa is trying to treat his job in the House like a "lean startup," with projects like Madison. It is a bit of a slog going up against the entrenched ways that Congress acts today, however:
"I try to bring a lean startup mentality to my work making government more efficient, open and participatory," he said.

"This technology-centered approach, however, is disruptive to the government bureaucracy and many in Congress because it demands experimentation, data-driven analysis and actually listening to our users -- the American people -- about how to make government work better for them. That's why social media and innovation are so central to my work: we in Congress do not have all the answers, but we can have a relentless drive to adapt technology to let taxpayers re-engage with government on their own terms. I firmly believe that just as new technologies are revolutionizing nearly every aspect of life in America, nascent tools like Madison show the transformative impact technology will have on government, and ultimately overcome the inertia of the bureaucracy."
While not a traditional industry, it sure seems like Congress could use some significant disruption -- and having people in there treating it like a startup might just be a good way to start.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), May 10th, 2012 @ 2:01pm

    Can Congress Work Like A Tech Startup? NO.

    ..."is disruptive to the government bureaucracy and many in Congress because it demands experimentation, data-driven analysis and actually listening to our users..."
    Our Congress operates like a "too big to fail" monopoly entity and any good cynical realist must point out that that sort of thinking would end corruption. Therefore, not going to happen.

     

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  2.  
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    AG Wright (profile), May 10th, 2012 @ 2:13pm

    No they can't

    Congress is not selected for intelligence, as most tech employees are but for electability.
    Sometimes they can be intelligent but it is an accident and many times makes for short tenures.

     

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  3.  
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    arcan, May 10th, 2012 @ 2:18pm

    he is the representative congress needs but not the one it deserves.

     

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    Jeremy Collake, May 10th, 2012 @ 2:18pm

    Apples and Oranges. Nuff said.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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    weneedhelp (profile), May 10th, 2012 @ 2:28pm

    Can congress work

    No. Not in its current form.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 10th, 2012 @ 2:37pm

    Good to see Rep. Issa using Madison for all the bills he sponsors, like CISPA, which probably explains why it received so much support from the internet community. Wait, that didn't happen? Say, you don't think Issa's just going for cheap political points here, do you? I mean, that doesn't sound like something a politician would do...

     

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  7.  
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    Dave Reed, May 10th, 2012 @ 2:42pm

    Disruptive Technology

    Just for the record, at one time, the US Constitution WAS a Governmental Disruptive Technology. Heck, it was Version 2.x (how do you count the Bill of Rights? ) as the Articles of the Confederacy was version 1.

    And remember how much fuss-and-bother there was getting ver 1 installed?


    Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.
    John F. Kennedy, In a speech at the White House, 1962

     

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  8.  
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    Liz (profile), May 10th, 2012 @ 2:44pm

    Re:

    Both grow on trees. Both start as flowers. Both are fruit. Both produce seeds (except Naval Oranges). Both are round. Both are nutritious.

    I don't get the analogy.

     

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  9.  
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    JP, May 10th, 2012 @ 2:49pm

    Re: Re:

    But, but... color!

     

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  10.  
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    Overcast (profile), May 10th, 2012 @ 3:21pm

    That would require planning, responsibility, ethics, and such. Most of which has no place in congress.

    Conceptually, it would be a great idea - in reality, the chances of it happening are a bit less than snowfall in hell.

     

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    cjstg (profile), May 10th, 2012 @ 3:22pm

    name sounds familiar

    isn't this the guy using religion to wage war on women? that's certainly innovative. sorta like the v2 project was innovative.

     

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  12.  
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    Mason Wheeler, May 10th, 2012 @ 3:33pm

    OPEN

    Please don't go legitimizing OPEN like that. Just because it's marginally less offensive than SOPA and PIPA doesn't mean it's "a reasonable alternative." It's still based on the false premise that a piracy crisis exists that requires stronger legislative protections to defend IP interests against their users.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 10th, 2012 @ 7:00pm

    We can change things by changing the field.

    Don't play in congress, play it in the streets, in the open.

    The same tools people use to write open source code can be used to write any code and that means laws.

    But that is not enough, politicians are only part of the problem, they are not experts in every field and so they rely on others expertise those others are the positions that people with power target and they put their people in there, that is what the revolving door is for, we also need to map the political landscape to see what is happening.

    Politicians in a sense are just distractions, the real people formulating the policies are hidden is time to shine light on those people and open discussion and mapping are key to that effort.

     

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    A Guy (profile), May 10th, 2012 @ 7:28pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    That was exactly what I thought of too.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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    OLawD, May 10th, 2012 @ 7:37pm

    Madison isn't OPEN enough

    We are working on an open source platform similar to Madison (but you know actually useful for 99% of people not just what Rep. Issa plans to put up for review)

    Come check us out and make feature requests!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
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    MattP, May 11th, 2012 @ 10:51am

    Re: OPEN

    "more reasonable" doesn't mean that it's the right solution, it just means that it's closer than the alternative.

     

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  17.  
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    Bob Webster (profile), May 11th, 2012 @ 5:40pm

    The first three words...

    Can Congress work?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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