I had a chance to sit down and catch up with Rob Pierson from Congressman Honda’s office this week. Rob was just back from the SxSW interactive conference and has also recently made a splash with Congressman Honda’s crowd-sourcing initiative. You may have seen a mention in on the Open House Project’s Google list or the Congressman’s blog at The Hill. Congrats to Rob for pushing the envelope on what a Congressional web site can do for constituents!
I also recently chatted with Clay Johnson from Sunlight Labs to discuss similar topics. We are really big fans of the work that all of the “open government” community is doing and can tell with all our clients that everyone has turned the corner on transparency. Instead of Congressional staffers asking “why,” they are more frequently asking “how.”
So what does all this mean? And what can you do differently? Well first off, offices need to decide if they want to adopt transparency or maintain the status quo. From there, it’s really just technical details about publishing data like votes, requests and news in a “structured” data format. In fact, all of our clients have RSS feeds for their news content and that’s all it takes to get started!
Here’s another example: one of the recent changes to House rules is requiring offices to publish their appropriation requests on their web site. This caught a lot of people off guard, so if you are not sure what you need to do or how to do it, please give us a call!