December 6, 2012  

Why Congress Can’t Deliberate

“In its current dysfunctional state…Congress cannot have nuanced deliberations or make knowledgeable judgments” writes Carnegie Corporation grantee Lorelei Kelly in a Reuters piece “Why Congress Can’t Deliberate.”

Kelly is a Research Fellow with the Open Technology Initiative at the New America Foundation, where she directs a Carnegie Corporation supported project called SmartCongress--which seeks to establish a decentralized system of expertise for American legislators, including new approaches for local civic engagement. 

A new SmartCongress report, "Congress’ Wicked Problem: Seeking Knowledge Inside the Information Tsunami" — based on dozens of congressional staff interviews — documents how policymakers and their small staffs are forced to sort an immense amount of incoming communication with an increasingly archaic system.  The report argues that burdened by an overwhelming amount of information, as well as suffering from a lack of bipartisan expertise, Congress cannot serve the needs of American democracy.

"Wicked Problem" recommends that Congress use technology to become more responsive 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.