Letter Urges House Leadership to Modernize the People’s House
Today, Zach Graves, Executive Director of Lincoln Network, and Matt Lira, former Special Assistant to the President for Innovation Policy, sent a letter to Speaker McCarthy, urging him to modernize the House of Representatives.
The text of the letter reads:
Dear Speaker McCarthy:
Congratulations on your election as Speaker of the House of Representatives. As the head of a right-of-center organization that has focused on modernizing and strengthening Article One, I deeply appreciate your commitment to building a more open and modern legislative branch, which is essential for it to execute its constitutional responsibilities.
The House rules package for the 118th Congress clearly reflects your vision and leadership. It focuses congressional attention on improving government accountability, fiscal discipline, and enabling the chamber to better use its powers on behalf of the American people to deliver a more effective, efficient, and accountable federal government.
Late last year, Lincoln Network published several reports with recommendations for operational reforms based on our interviews with an array of bipartisan experts. These recommendations focused on enhancing the ability of the House of Representatives to serve the American public in four primary areas: enacting impactful legislation, conducting effective oversight, improving constituent services, and ensuring wise stewardship of taxpayer dollars. We were very pleased to see some of these recommendations reflected in the rules package.
As you begin your Speakership, we would like to bring additional recommendations to your attention that could be addressed through protocols, administrative actions, and appropriations:
- Modernize House technology infrastructure by chartering the House Digital Service, directing the Chief Administrative Officer to enhance cybersecurity guidelines and recommendations, reforming House Information Resources, increasing the technical capacity at the House Office of Legislative Counsel, publishing a set of secure, standards-compliant application programming interfaces (APIs) for the most common constituent services, publishing spending numbers as structured data, and preserving speech and debate protections in the cloud.
- Strengthen American innovation by streamlining access to expert resources, creating a House innovation advisor position, and granting American Innovation Act Authorities for House Officers to conduct prize competitions for improving legislative branch operations.
- Explore options to enhance regulatory review capabilities that serve as a legislative branch counterpart to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs and shift power from the administrative bureaucracy back to Congress. This could be organized as a House-only entity, a standalone bicameral office, or a mission team within GAO.
- Promote openness and transparency by requiring committees to publish witness responses to questions for the record, providing the Clerk of the House with more resources to track reports due to Congress and committees, establishing a database of current fellowship positions within House offices, and publishing an annual list of Article One funding requests.
- Enhance oversight capacity by allowing up to 10 percent of GAO’s reported oversight savings as an offset for Cut-Go, encouraging committees to focus on oversight to close open GAO recommendations, giving committees sufficient staff to conduct oversight and investigations, enhancing technical capacity at committees to conduct oversight, and directing the Chief Administrative Officer to pilot a program to provide enhanced training and certifications to staff.
- Support House modernization activities by establishing a subcommittee on modernization within the Committee on House Administration.
We believe these and other reforms would further modernize the House of Representatives and improve the ability of the United States Congress to deliver results for the American people. Thank you for your consideration, and we look forward to the opportunity to work with you on these matters.
Fmr. Special Assistant to the President
White House Office of American Innovation (2017-2021)
 See: Matt Lira, Zach Graves, et al, “Modernizing the People’s House: Reform Proposals for the 118th Congress”; Zach Graves and Daniel Schuman, “Bipartisan Recommendations to Reform the House Rules”; Reynold Schweickardt and Zach Graves, “Building Digital Capacity in Congress: Recommendations for the House Digital Service.”
Tags: Modernizing Congress