The Office of the Chief Administrator in the House of Representatives is working to establish a new House Digital Services team that will be tasked with improving the technology solutions available to lawmakers.
Chief Administrative Officer Catherine Szpindor wrote in a statement submitted Thursday to the House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress that the new team will have the freedom to experiment and to build software prototypes.
“The CAO is building an innovative House Digital Services team of technology experts skilled in customer relations and business analysis, design, and implementation,” Szpindor said in her testimony. “Our intention is to leverage fellows from other agencies and the private sector – as appropriate – and expand the House Digital Service team over time.”
The new service is tasked with building intuitive solutions that improve on member offices’ most significant challenges. It comes after nonprofit groups, like TechCongress and others, have for years looked to inject tech talent into Congress through digital service fellowships.
Setting up a new digital service is one of a range of measures being taken forward by the chief administrative officer (CAO) in response to prior questions from House lawmakers over the pace of digital modernization in Congress.
Szpindor said also that her office is leading a procurement process to acquire a new cloud-based constituent relationship management platform – or constituent database – that could give lawmakers more modern tools to manage their engagement with constituents.
Other work being carried out by CAO to modernize Congress includes a project to improve the accessibility of websites hosted by the House, to ensure that they comply with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. The act, which was amended in 1998, requires federal agencies to develop, procure and maintain and use information and communications technology (ICT) that is accessible to people with disabilities – regardless of whether or not they work for the federal government.
In May last year, CAO also launched an e-signature platform called Quill, which is used to track the progress of letters written by lawmakers from start to finish. It was originally developed by the Senate and modified for the House by the CAO.