July 31, 2020

Select Committee Unanimously Approves Fourth Round of Recommendations

12 new recommendations address continuity of operations in Congress

Washington, D.C. – Today the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress (“Select Committee”) unanimously passed 12 new recommendations aimed at improving continuity of operations in Congress. This was the fourth package of recommendations passed by the Select Committee.

Since many congressional offices began teleworking in March due to the global pandemic, the Select Committee has held six virtual discussions with guest experts. In a number of the discussions, the Members and participants highlighted best practices for remote work, and identified many of the challenges facing Members and staff while teleworking. A number of the recommendations reflect these conversations, and were crafted in response to feedback from congressional staff and Members of Congress.

“Especially when facing a crisis, Congress needs to be working effectively and efficiently to get the job done for our constituents. These recommendations bring more certainty to our operations and will help the legislative branch continue operating at its best for the American people,” said Chair Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and Vice Chair Tom Graves (R-GA).

 

The recommendations can be seen below:

 

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Establish regular maintenance plans for office technology, so the equipment and technology needed during remote operations and telework is functional.
  4. Crisis communications guidelines for constituent communication, including outreach plans for extended telework periods, should be approved and shared with all Member offices.  
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Committees should establish telework policies on a bipartisan basis.
  8. The House should make permanent the option to electronically submit committee reports.
  9. Expand the use of digital signatures for a majority of House business, including constituent communications.
  10. Committees should develop bipartisan plans on how technology and innovative platforms can be best incorporated into daily work.
  11. A bipartisan, bicameral task force should identify lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic and recommend continuity of Congress improvements.
  12. Continuity, telework and cybersecurity training should be given to all new Members of Congress.   

 

About the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress

Created by an overwhelming bipartisan vote at the beginning of the 116th Congress, the Select Committee was tasked to produce recommendations on rules to promote a more modern and efficient Congress; procedures, including the schedule and calendar; policies to develop the next generation of leaders; staff recruitment, diversity, retention, and compensation and benefits; administrative efficiencies, including purchasing, travel, outside services, and shared administrative staff; technology and innovation; and the work of the House Commission on Congressional Mailing Standards.

Since March 2019 the Select Committee has held 16 hearings, six virtual discussions, and numerous Member and staff-level briefings and listening sessions to solicit ideas and recommendations for reforming the legislative branch. On a rolling basis throughout the year, the Select Committee issued recommendations and shared ideas for reform on a bipartisan basis. Last fall, after widespread bipartisan support throughout Capitol Hill, the Select Committee and its work was extended through the end of the 116th Congress. The rule that created the Select Committee originally had it set to expire on February 1, 2020. The extension allows the Select Committee to continue its work proposing bipartisan reforms to make Congress work better for the American people.

 

###