Congress Needs to Get With the Times on Communication

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Adfero’s Chris Battle wrote a guest column in today’s edition of Roll Call. A former Chief of Staff, Battle encourages Members to get with the times and welcome, not discourage increasing amounts of constituent email.

I’m not a big fan of “big government” so there is no big surprise here.

Turns out that a thriving democracy involves a lot of interaction with the public — driving Outlook-addled staff to the edge of insanity.

The solution on Capitol Hill? Instead of adapting methods and technologies to deal with the changing communications landscape, Members of Congress are trying to block out the changing world from its hallowed halls. Even when I was on the Hill years ago, Congressional offices were woefully behind the times with regard to technology. Instead of responding to e-mail with e-mail, offices would (and still do) go through the laborious process of printing out e-mail letters, putting them in a pile and then drafting a traditional letter in response that would be sent through the postal system.

It makes you wonder: When telephones first became available, did Members of Congress have their staffs translate incoming calls into telegrams?

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