After Seven Years of Helping People Govern Better Together, We’re Shutting Down the Open Source Public Engagement Platform on 2/10/19

A look inside institutional constraints and opportunities for congressional teams to improve constituent engagement approaches.

OVERVIEW

KEY FINDINGS

Mapping the processes, technology, and human experiences behind the scenes of Congress’ constituent engagement operations.

“Thanks for calling the office of Congressperson _______. Sorry, we can’t get to the phone right now.“

The channels, tools, and strategies that get attention and inform the opinions of congressional teams.

FINDINGS

Staff generally felt that in-person visits, personal letters, and, increasingly, social media were the best tools for being heard by Members of Congress.

The more effort a constituent puts in, the more engagement and impact they can expect.

The correspondence that makes its way to Members is subjectively hand-selected, with an eye to resonant personal stories.

  • Batching — The process of automatically or manually sorting incoming communications and placing in larger mail sets.
  • Casework — A constituent service where congressional staffers help constituents resolve issues involving federal agencies. Challenges with Veterans Affairs and Social Security Administration are common examples.
  • Caseworker — A staffer typically based in…

Opportunities for The OpenGov Foundation and our partners to expand upon this project.

How congressional staff perceive their ability to affect the handling of constituent engagement.

FINDINGS

With such a steady stream of work, teams rarely take interest in making process changes. They also hesitate to change systems due to upfront costs of team training and fear of losing data, even if they’re deeply frustrated with their current setup.

With a strong inertia for the status quo, teams are wary to invest in new ideas or tools because transitions feel risky and time-consuming.

A human-centered and systems design approach for Congress.

1. Invest in improving the user experience (UX) within approved constituent relationship management systems (CRM).

The OpenGov Foundation

Serving those who serve the people in America’s legislatures, from Congress to your city council.

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