The CAO should leverage the bulk purchasing power of the House and provide a standard suite of quality, up-to-date devices and software, such as desktop and laptop computers, tablets, printers, mobile phones and desk phones at no cost to the Members’ Representational Allowance (MRA).
Beyond improvements to HIR, the Committee also recommends a significant change to the acquisition process for new technology in the House of Representatives. As recommended in Chapter 3 (Streamlining Member services), the CAO should leverage the bulk purchasing power of the House and provide a standard suite of quality, up-to-date devices and software, such as desktop and laptop computers, tablets, printers, phones, and software. Additionally, the cost of these purchases should not come out of the MRA, but be paid out of a centralized account.
This two-fold recommendation has several benefits. First, as discussed in Chapter 3, bulk purchasing will ultimately save the House, and taxpayers, thousands of dollars every year. Just as bulk purchasing for one’s family is more affordable, so would be bulk purchasing for the technology needs of the House. Secondly, while Members would still be able to use their MRA to purchase unique or above-standard technology than what is offered, outfitting each office with standard House equipment will give offices more flexibility with the MRA. This could provide an opportunity to hire more staff to help address needs in the district, or to increase staff pay, possibly helping with staff retention (as outlined in Chapter 3).
For individual Members, particularly freshmen, setting up an office in D.C. or their congressional district is complex. Shifting the responsibility to the CAO will ensure that Members have the tools they need to do their jobs from day one, and that taxpayer dollars are spent in the most efficient way possible.