Can the Senate See the Future?

May 6, 2022 | Lars Schönander

U.S. Senate committees have various responsibilities. They evaluate nominees for executive branch positions, conduct oversight, and review legislation. Committees use hearings as a primary tool to find facts, analyze policy issues, and inform legislative and oversight actions. But a review of Senate-hearing witness-testimony data raises questions about lawmakers’ ability to anticipate national issues before they
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A bipartisan bill that will save billions

April 4, 2022 | Dan Lips

The 117th Congress may be remembered as a time of intense polarization. But the leaders of a bipartisan House committee have been operating below the national political radar to improve how Congress works. Their latest effort has the potential to deliver substantial taxpayer savings.  Formed in 2019, the House Select Committee on the Modernization of
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COMPETES Act: Our industrial policy is spread too thin

February 11, 2022 | Geoff Cain

At one time, the chipset cemented America’s position as a preeminent technological power. From the 1950s to 1970s, the US government and semiconductor companies like Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel worked together to turn America into the world’s biggest manufacturer of semiconductors. Semiconductors were the technological foundation of the Apollo missions, the first heat-seeking missiles and
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Strengthening Bipartisan Oversight by Expanding the “Rule of Seven” Statute

January 21, 2022 | Dan Lips

Empowering members to engage in bipartisan fact-finding has the potential to reinvigorate Congress’s oversight authority under the Constitution  Summary   Since 2019, the House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress has developed a successful track record of passing bipartisan recommendations that are resulting in real changes to improve the way that Congress works. An October
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House Modernization Committee Passes Recommendations to Strengthen and Leverage GAO’s Nonpartisan Oversight

December 8, 2021 | Dan Lips

The House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress is building a track record of bipartisan success with nearly two-thirds of its recommendations from the 116th Congress being enacted to date. On Wednesday, the Select Committee passed its latest series of recommendations–including several proposals that would reform the way that Congress works with the Government
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GAO Saved Taxpayers $66 Billion Last Year

November 16, 2021 | Dan Lips

But Congress’s watchdog has the potential to do more to make government work better  The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its annual Performance and Accountability report this week. The Comptroller General reported that the Congressional Watchdog agency’s work resulted in “about $66.2 billion in financial benefits—a return of about $93 for every dollar invested in
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Leveraging Technology to Improve How People Communicate with Their Representatives in Congress

October 6, 2021 | Reynold Schweickhardt

Click here to download a PDF version of the paper. In 2021, the political parties on Capitol Hill have found little common ground. Yet they do agree on at least one key point: Congress needs to work better.  Few congressional responsibilities are more vital than lawmakers’ interactions with their constituents. Constituents provide significant input in
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Bipartisan Senate Bill Highlights Congress’s Opportunity to Save “Tens of Billions”

September 29, 2021 | Dan Lips

The Hassan-Ernst bill would rescind $1.5 billion from a fund Congress terminated decades ago While Congress is focused on the debt limit and trillion-dollar spending packages, the  Government Accountability Office (GAO) continues to highlight opportunities for lawmakers and federal agencies to save “tens of billions” implementing the nonpartisan watchdog’s recommendations for reforming the government.  And
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Coalition to Congress: Invest in Policy and Oversight Capacity to Strengthen Article I

July 22, 2021 | Zach Graves

Click here to view a PDF of the letter. Hon. Richard Shelby, Vice ChairU.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations Hon. Mike Braun, Ranking MemberSubcommittee on the Legislative BranchU.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations Re: Strengthening Article I with Policy and Oversight Capacity Dear Vice Chair Shelby and Ranking Member Braun, We the undersigned right-of-center organizations and individuals
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Funding Bill Takes a Giant Leap to Rebuild Congressional Capacity

June 24, 2021 | Zach Graves

Today at noon the House Appropriations Committee’s Legislative Branch Subcommittee will mark up its funding bill for fiscal year 2022. This legislation constitutes a big leap towards addressing the devastating decline Members of Congress have inflicted upon the Legislative Branch over the past quarter century, including a nearly 40 percent staffing reduction at committees and
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Pay Congressional Staff More! Says Bipartisan Group of 30 Orgs to House Approps

May 17, 2021 | Zach Graves

Click here to download a PDF of the letter 30 organizations and 11 congressional experts sent a bipartisan letter to House appropriators today calling to restore funding levels for congressional personal office and committee staff, amounting to double-digit percentage increases. The bipartisan letter was organized by the progressive organization Demand Progress and the conservative organization Lincoln
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Recommendations to Strengthen GAO’s Science, Technology Assessment, and Analytics Program

April 15, 2021 | Zach Graves

This post was co-authored by Zach Graves and Dan Lips. The FY2022 appropriations process is underway. While it represents a small fraction of overall spending, one of the most important challenges on Congress’s agenda is meeting the funding needs for the Legislative Branch, and providing resources for key support agencies like the Government Accountability Office
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Former Senator Carl Levin’s Defense of the Filibuster

March 29, 2021 | Dan Lips

President Joe Biden’s announcement that he is open to reforming the Senate’s filibuster has energized calls from progressives to eliminate the Senate minority’s most powerful procedural tactic to block legislation or force compromise. But in his new memoir, Getting to the Heart of the Matter: My 36 Years in the Senate, former Michigan Senator Carl Levin
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Testimony of Zach Graves to the U.S. House of Representatives, Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress

March 26, 2021 | Zach Graves

Click here to download a PDF of the letter Chairman Kilmer, Vice Chairman Timmons, and esteemed members of the Committee: Thank you for the opportunity to testify. My organization, Lincoln Network, works to bridge the gap between Silicon Valley and DC. This work entails building up and future-proofing our institutions with the capacity they need
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Modernizing Oversight of Federal Spending Could Save Taxpayers Billions

March 19, 2021 | Dan Lips

Days before Congress passed the $1.9 trillion emergency spending package, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office issued a grim snapshot of the nation’s fiscal condition. CBO warned that the “growing debt burden could increase the risk of a fiscal crisis and higher inflation as well as undermine confidence in the U.S. dollar, making it more costly to finance public and private
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The Call for Modernization in the US Senate

February 26, 2021 | Zach Graves

Dear Honorable Majority Leader Schumer, Honorable Minority Leader McConnell, Honorable Chairwoman Klobuchar, and Honorable Ranking Member Blunt: The COVID-19 pandemic, growing economic hardship for many American families, a national reckoning over racial injustice, and the January 6 siege of the Capitol have strained our democracy, underscoring the need for a strong, well-prepared Congress. While democratic
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Keep Congress Open to the People: Bipartisan Letter Rejecting Permanent Capitol Fencing

February 17, 2021 | Zach Graves

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Schumer, House Republican Leader McCarthy, and Senate Republican Leader McConnell: We write in firm opposition to the proposed enclosure of the U.S. Capitol with permanent security fencing. The Capitol and surrounding buildings must remain open to all engaged in the business of our democracy. Congress should be the shining
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Power of the Purse Coalition Shares Priorities With 117th Congress

February 8, 2021 | Dan Lips

Click here to download a PDF of the letter Dear Leader Schumer, Speaker Pelosi, Leader McConnell, and Leader McCarthy: On behalf of the undersigned organizations, members of the Power of the Purse Coalition, we write requesting your support for advancing a number of initiatives in the 117th Congress to strengthen the legislative branch’s constitutional authority
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Returning Science and Technology Assessment to Congress

January 28, 2021 | Zach Graves

The shuttering of the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) in 1996, along with contemporaneous cuts to Congress’s policy capacity, created a deep institutional gap in the formation of science and technology (S&T) policy in the United States. A quarter century later, in the wake of a middling response to the COVID-19 pandemic, eroding military superiority,
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Why GAO is Congress’s Best Investment

December 7, 2020 | Dan Lips

A new report examines the Congressional watchdog’s return-on-investment Facing a December 11 deadline to fund the federal government, Congress must finalize its annual spending bills or punt those negotiations into the new year. As lawmakers negotiate on Capitol Hill, taxpayers should keep an eye on one small line item in the federal budget.  Last year,
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How Congress Can Leverage GAO to Expand Taxpayer Savings

October 23, 2020 | Dan Lips

GAO’s Work Has Yielded $1.1 Trillion in Taxpayer Savings Since 1999. But Congress Can Do More to Leverage Them. The United States faces growing governance and fiscal challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic is exposing the federal government’s limited ability to manage a national crisis. The Congressional Budget Office warns that the national debt will eclipse GDP
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Lincoln Supports Video Broadcast of Appropriations Committee Legislative Markups

August 7, 2020 | Zach Graves

Click here to download a PDF of the letter. The Honorable Richard Shelby Chair, Committee on Appropriations United States Senate The Honorable Patrick Leahy Ranking Member, Committee on Appropriations United States Senate Dear Chairman Shelby and Ranking Member Leahy: We write to respectfully request that video of Senate Appropriations Committee legislative mark-ups be broadcast online
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Bipartisan Thanks to the Legislative Branch

July 31, 2020 | Zach Graves

Click here to download a PDF of the letter. The Honorable Tim Ryan H-306, The Capitol Washington, DC 20515 The Honorable Jamie Herrera Beutler 2352 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, DC 20515 Dear Chairman Ryan, Ranking Member Herrera Beutler, and Members of the Legislative Branch Appropriations Committee: We write in deep appreciation of your efforts to
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“Exploring the Feasibility and Security of Technology to Conduct Remote Voting in the House”

July 17, 2020 | Zach Graves

Click here to download a PDF of the letter. Hon. Zoe Lofgren, Chair Hon. Rodney Davis, Ranking Member Committee on House Administration Committee on House Administration U.S. House of Representatives U.S. House of Representatives Re: Hearing Entitled “Exploring the Feasibility and Security of Technology to Conduct Remote Voting in the House” Dear Chair Lofgren, Ranking
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Rebuilding Congress’ Policy Capacity

July 11, 2020 | Zach Graves

Click here to read the full article discussing efforts to modernize Congress. Earlier this month, the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress held a hearing on improving staffing capacity and policy expertise in Congress. A major theme of this discussion was the historical loss of congressional staff capacity, and how to address it. To reverse this
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Bipartisan Coalition Urges Congress to Invest in Itself

June 22, 2020 | Zach Graves

40+ Organizations Ask Appropriators to Shift Funding from the Executive Branch to the Legislative Branch The following letter can be downloaded here The Honorable Nita Lowy Chair Committee on AppropriationsUnited States House of Representatives The Honorable Richard ShelbyChair Committee on Appropriations United States Senate The Honorable Kay Granger Ranking Member Committee on AppropriationsUnited States House
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Coalition Letter Urging Transparent Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearings

June 10, 2020 | Zach Graves

The following letter can be downloaded here June 10, 2020 The Honorable James E. Risch U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee United States Senate 423 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510-6225 Re: Committee Proceedings Should Be Open and Transparent Dear Chairman Risch: We, the undersigned transparency and accountability organizations, write to express our deep concerns regarding a
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Testimony of Zach Graves to the United States Senate, Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch

May 7, 2020 | Zach Graves

The following testimony was delivered on May 1, 2020. Dear Chairman Hyde-Smith, Ranking Member Murphy, and members of the committee: Thank you for the opportunity to submit testimony. Over the past two years, there has been considerable interest and new research surrounding the question of how to enhance science and technology capacity in the legislative branch,
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TechCongress Is Now Accepting Applications for its Congressional Digital Service Fellowship

May 1, 2020 | Alexiaa Jordan

“Out of 3,500 congressional staff, less than 20 have any technical background. Decent governance in the 21st century REQUIRES talented technologists to serve in government. ” — Travis Moore, Founder and Director of TechCongress Now, TechCongress has launched a new Congressional Digital Service Fellowship for experienced technologists. Here’s what they’re looking for: Commitment to helping
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Video: A Time to Build? Institutional Failure and Reform After COVID-19

April 30, 2020 | Marshall Kosloff

Marshall Kosloff, Director of Outreach and Media for Lincoln Network, moderated a virtual panel featuring the following distinguished guests, Eli Dourado, Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Growth and Opportunity. Marci Harris, CEO, and Co-Founder of PopVoxMark Lutter, Founder and Executive Director of the Charter Cities Institute The event was inspired by Marc Andreessen,
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Mock Hearing Convenes Experts to Discuss Remote Proceedings

April 21, 2020 | Zach Graves

Former members of Congress participated in a “Mock Remote Hearing” exercise to test the viability of online proceedings during the COVID-19 pandemic. The event was co-chaired by Former Rep. Brian Baird [D, WA] and Former Rep. Bob Inglis [R, SC] and co-hosted by AEI, The Brookings Institution, Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation, Georgetown University,
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SBA.gov vs. Instacart – Collapsing IT Infrastructure During Covid 19

April 16, 2020 | Garrett Johnson

Exploding demand for government assistance at nearly every level has strained many old technology systems to the point of crashing, causing millions of Americans nightmares. Any startup would dream of the hockey-stick traffic spikes experienced by state unemployment pages or by the federal Small Business Administration (SBA) since mid-March, but the current crisis provides another
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Congress Can Save Taxpayers Billions By Using Data Science to Stop Improper Payments

April 7, 2020 | Dan Lips

By Maggi Molina and Dan Lips Congress faces major challenges in 2020—including the Coronavirus pandemic and addressing its significant disruptions to our way of life. With the Congressional Budget Office already forecasting trillion dollar federal deficits through 2030, lawmakers may have less flexibility to authorize new spending to address these problems. One way for Congress
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