Patricia Moore Nicholas: Tools to Help Congress Think for Itself

Grantees in this story


The same technologies that have revolutionized the way politicians campaign are undermining their ability to govern once they win, writes former Carnegie Corporation grantee Lorelei Kelly. A specialist on national security with extensive experience on Capitol Hill, Kelly is now a research fellow with the Open Technology Institute at the New America Foundation. 

While the U.S. Congress makes critical decisions affecting us all, it provides inadequate money and scant opportunity for issue education or professional development for members and congressional staffers. As a result, many essential programs aimed at educating lawmakers are funded by foundations like Carnegie Corporation. In 2012, Lorelei Kelly received a grant for one such pilot program, Smart Congress, designed to leverage knowledge, technology, and social media to provide expertise to U.S. legislators and future security specialists on Capitol Hill. Housed at the New America Foundation, the program’s goal is better-informed governing.

Lorelei Kelly speaking at a Smart Congress event
Lorelei Kelly speaking at a Smart Congress event

A powerful illustration of Kelly’s take on information, technology, and government dysfunction appears in her article in the March 7, 2013 issue of The Atlantic, How Groups Like the NRA Captured Congress—and How to Take It Back.”

Congress’ Wicked Problem: Seeking Knowledge Inside the Information Tsunami, the report written by Kelly with support from Carnegie Corporation, makes the case that the absence of basic knowledge management in our legislature is a critical weakness.