Today, TechCongress opens its application process for its third class of Congressional Innovation Fellows. This competitive and paid fellowship will place a diverse set of technologists with an interest in public service in a year-long policy position in the office of a Member of Congress or in a Congressional Committee.
From the development of artificial intelligence and automation to the recent surge in cyber warfare, hacking, and use of ransomware against private and public entities, there has long been a technological knowledge gap in the policymaking process. It is a tough challenge for the government to keep up with the rapid pace of technological change, a challenge that is compounded by a lack of technology expertise to inform policymaking on complex issues like cybersecurity. TechCongress addresses this problem and builds congressional capacity by training cross-sector leaders—who can understand the challenges of government through the lens of the technology community—and keep Congress up-to-date about the latest challenges and opportunities related to technology. TechCongress seeks to bridge the divide between Congress and the technology sector by placing tech-savvy individuals to work with Members of Congress and Congressional Committees. These placements improve Congress’ ability to make technology policy as technology increasingly touches nearly every facet of life.
It has been over 20 years since the elimination of the Office of Technology Assessment, which provided independent scientific and technical expertise to Congress. There has not been another program to fill that important knowledge gap, even as the need for such a resource has grown exponentially. There have been many recent efforts to address the tech deficit at a variety of levels in government—from initiatives like the U.S. Digital Service, 18F, and the Presidential Innovation Fellowship at the federal level to Code for America at the municipal level—but none have been designed to directly address the needs of Congress. TechCongress aims to fill this gap with its own Congressional Innovation Fellowship.
Our most recent class of fellows have been working on a variety of tech policy initiatives in the U.S. Senate since January. Sunmin Kim is serving in the office of Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Ranking Member of the Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet Subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. Kim has been focusing on emerging issues in transportation, including transportation data and autonomous vehicle regulatory policy. Chris Soghoian is serving with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee and focusing on cybersecurity and surveillance issues. Lastly, Maurice Turner is working on cybersecurity issues for the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee under Chairman. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.). TechCongress is funded by the Ford Foundation, entrepreneur and investor Reid Hoffman, the Knight Foundation, and the Hewlett Foundation.
The following quote can be attributed to Travis Moore, Director of TechCongress at the Open Technology Institute:
In my eight years of working with Congress, I’ve only found five legislative staffers with technical training. Technology touches every issue in every Committee’s jurisdiction—from transportation to health to finance. Effective government in the 21st century requires an understanding of technology. I'm proud of the work done by our first two groups of Congressional Innovation Fellows, who have worked on everything from the OPM breach to health IT, and I’m excited to grow the program and select our third class of fellows.
The following quote can be attributed to Cecilia Muñoz, Vice President of Policy and Technology at New America and former Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council in the Obama Administration:
I’ve seen the transformative impact that tech expertise can have in government. The technology sector needs to know how important their skills and expertise are to solving big public problems. I’m excited to see TechCongress continue to grow and help Congress tackle some of today’s hardest policy challenges.
The deadline for submitting application materials is September 28, 2017. The fellowship will begin in January 2018 and run through December 2018.
More information on the Congressional Innovation Fellowship is available at TechCongress.io.
TechCongress is building 21st century government with technology talent through our Congressional Innovation Fellowship. It is a startup non-profit, incubated at the Open Technology Institute at New America. A nonpartisan organization, TechCongress works with a diverse set of political voices, and does not take positions on issues. We value an inclusive workplace and are an equal opportunity employer committed to hiring a diverse workforce at all levels of the organization. TechCongress is building a new generation of technology leaders, and is vigilantly focused on adding value—to our people, our institutions and our society.