Category Archives: #Hack4Congress

Digitizing Congress: Q&A with Kirsten Gullickson

Kirsten 4 Kirsten Gullickson, Special Guest to the Ash Center Technology and Democracy Fellowship, discusses how specific file formats of legislative documents and online repositories can make Congress more transparent and accountable to the public with Francesca Schembri. As a senior systems analyst for the Office of the Clerk in the U.S. House of Representatives, Kirsten spearheads the effort to convert the paper and parchment of legislative documents and federal law into digital formats including text, XML, and PDF. Read more about the Technology and Democracy Fellowship.

Check out interviews with other Technology and Democracy Fellows here. Continue reading

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Ash Center’s 10th Anniversary Series Provides Direction for the Next Ten Years

200x200logoFBshareIn May, the Ash Center concluded its Challenges to Democracy public dialogue series with presentations by the 2015 Innovations in American Government Award finalists. Local government officials, students, and scholars gathered with the Innovation Award finalists for a nuts and bolts conversation on fostering innovation in government. This model of conversation—one that brings together people and ideas unlikely to otherwise connect, in an environment that encourages candid conversation on important yet difficult issues, with an emphasis on finding a way forward—was a true reflection of the Challenges to Democracy series. This post explores some of the series’ highlights and how it will carry forth in the Ash Center’s upcoming work. Read more about all events in the series including associated multimedia such as podcasts, media coverage, photos, and video recordings.
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Reflections on #Hack4Congress: Daniel Schuman of the Congressional Data Coalition

schumanThis post by Daniel Schuman was originally published by the Congressional Data Coalition. It is the seventh in a series of occasional posts highlighting #Hack4Congress, a series of not-just-for-technologists hackathons organized by the Ash Center and The OpenGov Foundation to deliver crowd-sourced and innovative solutions to the impasse facing Congress and lawmaking. Three “civic hacks” in Cambridge, MA, San Francisco, CA (organized with PopVox), and Washington, DC took place in early 2015. The winners from each hackathon then traveled to Washington, DC on May 12 to demonstrate their projects to members of Congress and senior staff. Read more at hack4congress.org!

In this post Daniel Schuman, an experienced advocate for #opengov and #civictech, recaps the May 12, 2015 #Hack4Congress Briefing and Technology Demonstration on Capitol Hill. Schuman then identifies four insights that have emerged from the #Hack4Congress series: significant public enthusiasm exists for using technology to make Congress work better; the greatest improvements in public access to information arise from work done at the federal level; many people still do not know where to find federal legislative information; and civic technologists would benefit from additional guidance from those with experience at the intersection of Congress and technology. You can watch a recording of the entire May 12 briefing and demo in the video below. Continue reading

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Reflections on #Hack4Congress: Lliam Morrison, The Democracy Fund

Lliam_1485_-_171_for_websiteThis post by Lliam Morrison was originally published by The Democracy Fund. It is the sixth in a series of occasional posts highlighting #Hack4Congress, a series of not-just-for-technologists hackathons organized by the Ash Center and The OpenGov Foundation to deliver crowd-sourced and innovative solutions to the impasse facing Congress and lawmaking. Two events in Cambridge, MA and San Francisco, CA (organized with PopVox), took place earlier in 2015. The third event, #Hack4Congress DC, takes place next week  (April 29 – May 1)! The winners from each hackathon will travel to Washington, DC in May to demonstrate their projects to members of Congress and senior staff. Read more and register (space is limited) at hack4congress.org!

In this post, Morrison offers helpful context to the role #Hack4Congress can play in fixing Congress, with an emphasis on the value of bringing together people from different and nontraditional disciplines. We are thrilled to have the participation of The Democracy Fund in #Hack4Congress DC!
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Reflections on #Hack4Congress: Thea Nilsson, ‘No Ordinary Hackathon’ in San Francisco

Thea-Nilsson-300x300This post by Thea Nilsson was originally published by Microsoft Bay Area. It is the fifth in a series of occasional posts highlighting #Hack4Congress, a series of not-just-for-technologists hackathons organized by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation and The OpenGov Foundation to deliver crowd-sourced and innovative solutions to the impasse facing Congress and lawmaking. Three events in Cambridge, MA, San Francisco, CA (organized with PopVox), and Washington, DC are taking place in early 2015. The winners from each hackathon will then be flown to Washington, DC in May to demonstrate their projects to members of Congress and senior staff. The Cambridge event took place January 30-February 1 and #Hack4Congress San Francisco was held March 20-22. Read more and register for #Hack4Congress D.C. (April 29-May 1) at hack4congress.org. Continue reading

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Reflections on #Hack4Congress: Derek Pham, ‘Relating, Connecting, and Inspiring’

druThis post by HKS student Derek Pham is the fourth in a series of occasional posts highlighting #Hack4Congress, a not-just-for-technologists hackathon organized by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation and The OpenGov Foundation to deliver crowd-sourced and innovative solutions to the impasse facing Congress and lawmaking. Three events in Cambridge, MA, Washington, DC, and San Francisco, CA (organized with PopVox) are taking place in early 2015. The winners from each hackathon will then be flown to Washington, DC in late spring to demonstrate their projects to members of Congress and senior staff. The first event took place January 30-February 1, 2015 at Harvard Kennedy School. Learn more about the events at hack4congress.org and keep checking the Challenges to Democracy blog for continuing coverage, individual reflections, and other highlights from #Hack4Congress.

In this post, Pham recounts the kick-off panel featuring both scholarly and practical perspectives on the challenges facing Congress. He also captures and highlights the insightful voices and ideas of some of the #Hack4Congress participants. Watch and hear more from participants in the video below! Continue reading

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Reflections on #Hack4Congress: Daniel E. Levenson, Crowdsourcing Cross-Partisan Dialogue

levenson headshotThis post was originally published by Daniel E. Levenson on 36voices. It is the third in a series of occasional posts highlighting #Hack4Congress, a not-just-for-technologists hackathon organized by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation and The OpenGov Foundation to deliver crowd-sourced and innovative solutions to the impasse facing Congress and lawmaking. Three events in Cambridge, MA, Washington, DC, and San Francisco, CA (organized with PopVox) are taking place in early 2015. The winners from each hackathon will then be flown to Washington, DC in late spring to demonstrate their projects to members of Congress and senior staff. The first event took place January 30-February 1, 2015 at Harvard Kennedy School. Learn more about the events at hack4congress.org and keep checking the Challenges to Democracy blog for continuing coverage, individual reflections, and other highlights from #Hack4Congress.

In this post, Levenson reflects on the purpose of the event and on his own participation, including his team’s focus on the critical absence of strong working relationships between members of different parties and its impact on cross-partisan dialogue. More information on their idea, #Match4Democracy, available here. Continue reading

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Reflections on #Hack4Congress: Brandon Andrews, “The Dear Colleagues”

Brandon.Andrews (1)This post was originally published by Brandon Andrews on February 3, 2015. It is the second in a series of occasional posts highlighting #Hack4Congress, a not-just-for-technologists hackathon organized by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation and The OpenGov Foundation to deliver crowd-sourced and innovative solutions to the impasse facing Congress and lawmaking. Three events in Cambridge, MA, Washington, DC, and San Francisco, CA (organized with PopVox) are taking place in early 2015. The winners from each hackathon will then be flown to Washington, DC in late spring to demonstrate their projects to members of Congress and senior staff. The first event took place January 30-February 1, 2015 at Harvard Kennedy School. Learn more about the events at hack4congress.org and keep checking the Challenges to Democracy blog for continuing coverage, individual reflections, and other highlights from #Hack4Congress.

In this post, Andrews explains the logic behind and potential for his team’s idea to improve the lawmaking process by replacing the current E-Dear Colleague system used on Capitol Hill. Continue reading

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Reflections on #Hack4Congress: David Moore, Participatory Politics Foundation

dmooreThis post by David Moore was originally published on the Participatory Politics Foundation Blog. It is the first in a series of occasional posts highlighting #Hack4Congress, a not-just-for-technologists hackathon organized by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation and The OpenGov Foundation to deliver crowd-sourced and innovative solutions to the impasse facing Congress and lawmaking. Three events in Cambridge, MA, Washington, DC, and San Francisco, CA (organized with PopVox) are taking place in early 2015. The winners from each hackathon will then be flown to Washington, DC in late spring to demonstrate their projects to members of Congress and senior staff. The first event took place January 30-February 1, 2015 at Harvard Kennedy School. Learn more about the events at hack4congress.org and keep checking the Challenges to Democracy blog for continuing coverage, individual reflections, and other highlights from #Hack4Congress.

In this post, Moore gives some history on previous efforts to engage the #civictech and #opengov communities in fixing Congress, including his work on OpenCongress which became one of the most-visited non-profit government transparency websites. Moore also lists the civic tech and congressional experts joining him on our esteemed panel of judges. 

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