Online Tool Will Examine, Re-Engineer Congress’s Information Flows

Grantees in this story

Smart Congress, a web-based effort to examine and re-engineer how knowledge is shared with Congress, including the adoption of new technologies and innovations around local civic engagement, has been launched by the Open Technology Institute at the New America Foundation. 

Supported by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York, Smart Congress responds to the need for nuance, deliberation and expert judgment needed by policymakers and the general public to follow many contemporary and urgent policy issues. In many policy contexts, the United States Congress lacks this organizational capacity due to its antiquated systems of referral, sorting, communicating and convening. As a result, our first branch of government is struggling to deliver timely and proficient outcomes to address complex issues, including those with global and technological implications. Smart Congress will explore how to re-engineer the ways expert information flows into the legislature.

The goal of Smart Congress is to examine how information sharing might be modernized in the legislative branch--perhaps with a system of “21st century knowledge hubs.”  

By tapping the deep reservoir of knowledge that exists in states and congressional districts across the USA, and leveraging a combination of this expertise and technology, Smart Congress aspires to redress the deficiencies in the current congressional information system.  

Examples of this knowledge hub model include experts outside of DC conducting real-time fact checking in hearings via mobile device, crowdsourcing committee questions or floor statements for Congressional staff from states and districts, creating specialized research wikis and teams of experts who can help both with forecasting assessments and with expert judgment.  

The long-term goal of this project is to help the US Congress become a leading democratic institution in today’s global public square. 

Read more about Smart Congress