GovBytes: Low-Tech Government Takes to Telephones

There has been a lot of talk on GovLoop this week about tech savviness among different generations, namely which one can rightfully call itself the most skilled. As if on cue comes a counter conversation about a low-tech transparency initiative in which citizens can can access information about Congress and their state, all from the twelve buttons of their telephones.

Low-Tech Phone Service Connects Citizens to Congressional Info

The “Call to Congress” technology from Sunlight Foundation appeals to those who want access to well-organized public information without browsing the internet or using smartphone apps. In addition, it give access of information to people who don’t otherwise have access or connectivity to digital technology.

Some of the features include:

  • automated 24-hour availability in English and Spanish (and Esperanto)
  • ability to search every bill and regulation in the federal government
  • get notifications when Congress plans to vote on a bill, and information about how your delegation voted
  • search your information by your zip code
  • follow and search state bills.

The service has taken the best practices of efficiency and data organization which have been perfected in the app world and applied them to basic communication technology. Rumor is, it won’t even put you on hold.

If you want to give it a try, the number is 1-888-907-6886.

Leave a Comment


Leave a Reply

William Lim

Service accessibility is an area where the comparisons between government and the private sector fail, precisely because government is obligated to serve all the people starting with a technological “floor” (snail mail, telephones). On the other hand, aside from basic ADA compliance, a private sector business has no legal requirement to serve its customers in ways it deems unprofitable or obsolete.

Samuel Lovett

@William: I think that’s what’s great about this story is that a private non-profit like Sunlight is founded in order to help government increase its openness and accessibility, not because of any mandate, but because there is a need to increase the quality of government services already in place.