It’s no April Fools’ joke: If two senators get their way, Congress will up its digital content game. In a letter obtained by Politico, sens. Corey Booker (D-NJ) and Claire McCaskill (D-MS) call on the Senate to create an original set of rules and best practices for online media.
The Senate currently conducts its IT practices and digital outreach using a complicated tangle of regulations adapted from print outreach and 1980s/1990s-era computing. In their proposal, sent to the Senate’s Committee on Rules and Administration, Booker and McCaskill call for the use of tools like digital analytics and email newsletters as well as for the simplification of the complicated rules tech vendors currently follow in order to work with Congress.
The letter asks for seven reforms in total, which range from basic changes–streamlining vendor requirements for email newsletter providers, allowing more use of images in email newsletters, and formally letting individual Senate offices use third-party analytics services to track social media and news mentions–to much more complicated reforms like adapting the Congressional Record into XML format or letting senators’ offices switch to cloud-based servers.
One of the biggest changes citizens might notice if the proposal were implemented is permission for senators to use “digital franking”–government-subsidized email blasts or advertising on web pages directly aimed at constituents. The House of Representatives is currently allowed to use digital franking, but the Senate is not.
The rules would also build closer ties between large tech vendors and individual senators’ offices thanks to the loosening of requirements and new product opportunities. It might not be a surprise then, that both senators McCaskill and Booker have close ties to Silicon Valley.