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[liberationtech] Congress' Wicked Problem--obsolete and overloaded--now online

Lorelei Kelly loreleikelly at
Tue Dec 4 14:26:29 PST 2012

*For Immediate Release*
Tuesday, December 4, 2012

*Media Contact*
Clara Hogan
hogan at
*It Once Housed One of the World’s Premier Scientific Advisory Bodies, But
Congress Now Struggles with an Antiquated System of Collecting and Sorting
an Overload of Information*

Washington, DC – The U.S. Congress, in its present dysfunctional state,
cannot serve the needs of American democracy today due to a lack of
bipartisan expertise, understaffing and outdated methods of handling an
overwhelming amount of information, according to a *first-of-its-kind report
* <> released
today by the New America Foundation’s *Open Technology

Avoiding the “fiscal cliff” is just the latest among many complicated
policy problems faced by legislators. The “new” Congress is set to inherit
many major policy decisions that require nuance, genuine deliberation and
expert judgment. But the report, *"Congress’ Wicked Problem: Seeking
Knowledge Inside the Information
" *— based on dozens of congressional staff interviews — shows policymakers
and their small staffs are forced to sort a tsunami of incoming
communication with an increasingly archaic system.

“The absence of basic modern knowledge management is holding us back,” said
report author and OTI Research Fellow *Lorelei
*. “Congress is the most powerful legislature in the world, and it lacks
the wherewithal to compete on substance in today’s 24-hour news cycle. It
needs more bipartisan expertise and a modern and more inclusive approach to

Congress wasn’t always lacking in these areas — in fact, less than 20 years
ago it operated one of the world’s premier scientific advisory bodies. The
report explains how Congress went from maintaining an extensive network of
shared experts to where it is today.

The report recommends that Congress use technology to become more
successful and efficient. It also states that non-governmental sources of
trusted and reliable expertise without a financial conflict of interest are
critical players to step in and fill the information gap.

*Read the full report, “Congress’ Wicked Problem: Seeking Knowledge Inside
the Information

*Read an opinion piece by Lorelei Kelly in Reuters


*This report is the first in a series that will examine open government
trends on Capitol Hill and around the world.*

*Lorelei Kelly*
Research Fellow, Open Technology Institute
New America Foundation
Smart Congress <>
Tweeting @loreleikelly

cell: 202-487-7728
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