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Improving the Communication Between the Congress and Citizens

Tech Tuesday is a weekly program hosted by Kojo Nnamdi. This program raises very important issues, which may be significant for a large part of the American society. In this respect, it is possible to refer to one of the recent programs, Congress Online: More Information, Better-informed Citizens?, aired on September 13, 2011. The program focused on the wide introduction of information technology in the Congress and shifting the Congress online due to the use of internet, information technologies and contemporary telecommunication systems, which allow citizens to get more information about the work of the Congress and to communicate with congressmen. In fact, the program raised an important question, whether Congress online is really effective in terms of informing the society and improving the communication between the Congress and citizens.

On the discussing the issue, the participants of the program pointed out the introduction of new technologies in the Congress faced certain resistance. The resistance to technological changes within the Congress was justified by the conservatism of the Congress and congressmen and their unwillingness to implement new technology. At this point, it is worth mentioning the fact that, in the past, congressmen and the Congress staff had considerable problems with using new technologies because they lacked experience and skills essential for using new technologies. Nevertheless, today, internet and information technology grow more and more popular not only in the US society but also in the US Congress.

Fitch, the President and CEO of Congressional Management Foundation, pointed out that the introduction of new technologies makes the Congress and its offices and their work more transparent. In such a way, the Congress can become closer to citizens and the work of the Congress can become more comprehensible and evident to citizens. In addition, the higher degree of transparency decreases the risk of corruption and unclear decisions being taken by the Congress.

However, in spite of apparent advantages of the Congress going online, the introduction of new technologies still raise some problems, such as security issues. In 2007, the Congress was broken. This was one of the first serious troubles, which raised the strong opposition to the Congress going online. However, such attacks still failed to prevent the further introduction of new technologies in the Congress. Another problem the Congress faced, while going online, was the information overload. According to Fitch, today, this problem is not as serious as it used to be but still the Congress have to process a considerable amount of information and the problem of the information overload persists.

At the same time, the Congress online technology opens wider opportunities for taking effective decisions for the opinion of different people, including citizens but not only policy makers can be taken into consideration. On the other hand, the Congress online technology is costly. Increasing costs of the maintenance of the Congress online technology that increase spending on the Congress.

However, paper mail is still more influential than e-mail, although the difference is relatively insignificant. Congressmen still pay more attention to paper mail because they consider them certainly authentic, while the authenticity of e-mails is difficult to check. On the other hand, social networks, such as Twitter and Facebook help to understand the opinion of citizens on important issues.

In such a way, the program revealed the full extent to which the Congress going online is important and difficult all the same.

Works Cited:

Nnamdi, K. Congress Online: More Information, Better-informed Citizens? 2011. Retrieved on October 7, 2011 from http://thekojonnamdishow.org/shows/2011-09-13/congress-online-more-information-better-informed-citizens