October 28, 2021

The Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress Makes Progress on Nearly Two Thirds of Bipartisan Recommendations to Help Congress More Effectively Serve the American People

Today, the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress (“Modernization Committee”) announced that nearly two thirds of the bipartisan recommendations passed by the Committee in the 116th Congress to make Congress work better for the American people have been fully adopted or have seen meaningful progress towards full implementation.


In an effort to make Congress more efficient, effective, and transparent for the American people, the Modernization Committee passed 97 recommendations in the 116th Congress. These recommendations are about making Congress more responsive to the needs of the American people, making Congress more effective and accessible, and creating an atmosphere in Congress where members can get along, even when they disagree, so that the institution can focus on addressing the nation’s challenges.  


With 33 recommendations either fully implemented or nearing full implementation, plus another 30 on track to being implemented, the Modernization Committee has become one of the only Congressional reform bodies in recent history to attempt, and to be successful, at working to implement their own recommendations before finishing its term. Some of the fully implemented recommendations are highlighted below.


“The American people deserve a Congress that can get things done for them,” said Chair Derek Kilmer (D-WA). “The Modernization Committee is focused on improving Congress’ ability to solve problems, increasing civility and collaboration across ideology, and increasing constituent access to the legislative process. But our goal was not just to make recommendations. It was to make change. That’s why we’ve focused on seeing these recommendations get implemented. We’re making real progress towards improving the institution, and we’ve got a clear path to get more of these across the finish line.”

“The Modernization Committee’s mission is to create an efficient Congress that provides solutions for the American people, not simply produce reports that collect dust on a shelf,” said Vice Chair William Timmons (R-SC). “Through our committee’s bipartisan efforts, we have advanced or enacted more than half of our recommendations. We will continue our efforts toward our shared goal of a more effective, efficient, and transparent institution.” 


Key recommendations adopted to bolster Congressional capacity through staff retention: 


  • Creating a one-stop-shop Human Resources HUB dedicated to member, committee, and leadership staff. This centralization of information aims to increase the ability for staff to understand the range of benefits and support available to them. The Hub also provides resources to help with recruitment, retention, and management within Congressional offices.
  • Making the Office of Diversity and Inclusion permanent (ODI). In the 116th Congress, the House Office of Diversity & Inclusion (ODI) was established to foster diversity among House offices to better reflect the diversity of the American people and was made permanent in the 117th rules package.
  • Regularly surveying staff on improving pay and benefits. The Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) now regularly conducts surveys to capture critical information surrounding staff pay, benefits, and diversity. Better understanding this data allows the CAO to gauge problems within the institution and track progress.
  • Decoupling Staff and member Pay. Speaker Pelosi recently announced that the House would raise the maximum pay rate for House staff, decoupling it from member pay to promote the retention and recruitment of a highly talented and diverse staff which the Committee recommended in the 116th Congress.


Key recommendations adopted to foster civility and bipartisanship: 

  • Offering a nonpartisan new member orientation. Following the recommendations of the Modernization Committee, members-elect and staff participated in more than 20 bipartisan briefings and events during New Member Orientation (NMO) foster collaborative partnerships between new members.
  • Promoting civility during New Member Orientation. In addition to holding bipartisan briefings and events, the 117th Congress NMO program included a session on decorum and bipartisanship. 


Key recommendations adopted to promote ease of access to information for all Americans: 

  • Improving access to congressional websites for individuals with disabilities. The CAO began efforts to ensure that House websites are fully accessible and compliant with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.
  • Consolidate the regulations governing member office communications, including digital communications, into one easy to find place. Following the Modernization Committee’s recommendation, the House Communications Standards Commission released updated standards that took effect on January 7, 2020, to make information regarding official communications was more transparent and accessible. 

Key recommendation adopted to reclaim Article I responsibilities: 

  • Reduce dysfunction in the annual budgeting process through the establishment of a congressionally-directed program that calls for transparency and accountability, and that supports meaningful and transformative investments in local communities across the United States. 

A link to the report and all fully implemented recommendations can be found here.