FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, July 31, 2020
MEDIA CONTACT: Jessica R. Towhey | jessica@2eCommunications.com | 202-294-0492
ALEXANDRIA, VA – Congressional Institute President Mark Strand issued the following statement regarding the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress unanimously approving 12 recommendations to modernize operations for the continuity of Congress:
“The health protocols put in place for COVID-19 have brought to light a number of issues central to how Congress operates when the ‘normal’ course of business is disrupted. We congratulate the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress for undertaking an important task of examining congressional continuity. The 12 recommendations the committee approved are important steps toward modernizing Congress. The fact that the recommendations passed unanimously is a testament to the strong bipartisanship leadership shown by Reps. Derek Kilmer and Tom Graves. They and their colleagues deserve recognition for finding a bipartisan path in one of the most partisan environments Congress has seen a long time.”
The recommendations are:
- Each office should have a continuity of operations plan, including minimum safety requirements and an emergency communications plan, that is made available to all staff so offices continue functioning for the public.
- Ensure that staff have the most up-to-date technology and equipment to continue effectively working on behalf of constituents in the event of a disruption or emergency.
- Establish regular maintenance plans for office technology, so the equipment and technology needed during remote operations and telework is functional.
- Crisis communications guidelines for constituent communication, including outreach plans for extended telework periods, should be approved and shared with all Member offices.
- To help streamline casework requests and help constituents better access federal agencies and resources, the House should implement a secure document management system, and provide digital forms and templates for public access.
- The House should prioritize the approval of platforms that staff need for effective telework, and each individual staff member should have licensed access to the approved technology.
- Committees should establish telework policies on a bipartisan basis.
- The House should make permanent the option to electronically submit committee reports.
- Expand the use of digital signatures for a majority of House business, including constituent communications.
- Committees should develop bipartisan plans on how technology and innovative platforms can be best incorporated into daily work.
- A bipartisan, bicameral task force should identify lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic and recommend continuity of Congress improvements.
- Continuity, telework and cybersecurity training should be given to all new Members of Congress.
ABOUT THE CONGRESSIONAL INSTITUTE
Founded in 1987, the Congressional Institute is a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to helping Members of Congress better serve their constituents and helping their constituents better understand the operations of the national legislature. The Institute sponsors major conferences for the benefit of Members of the U.S. Congress as well as a number of smaller gatherings, all devoted to an examination of important policy issues and strategic planning. The Institute also conducts important research projects consistent with its mission, develops resources such as a House Floor Procedures Manual and sponsors Oxford-style bipartisan Congressional debates.
For the Institute’s blog post “Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress Unanimously Approves Continuity of Operations Recommendations,” click here.