13 Teams Competed in “Not-Just-for-Technologists” Hackathon to Fix Congress
Cambridge, Mass. – The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Harvard Kennedy School and The OpenGov Foundation today announced the winners of last weekend’s #Hack4Congress competition to create common-sense solutions that would make the U.S. Congress more efficient, effective and accountable to citizens. The two-day event drew over 150 students, software developers, academics and everyday Americans from across the country, leading to 13 innovative proposals to tackle 5 major threats to the future of democracy in America.
The overall winner of #Hack4Congress was Team HillHack for its proposal, Congress Connect, which is designed to facilitate more productive face-to-face conversations between every-day citizens and their members of Congress. Congress Connect, designed by Taylor Woods, Chris Baily, Kat Kane, and Jessie Landerman is a platform where constituents can directly request meetings on the Hill or in their district office, access tutorials to prepare for their meeting and connect with other constituents who share their advocacy goals.
The finalist for Challenge 1 – Improving Law Making Process was the Dear Colleagues for its website to enabling collaborative law making, ensuring organizational memory, and offering customized alerts on issues members care about, and providing analytics.
The finalist for Challenge 2 – Facilitating Cross-Partisan Dialogue was DICO, a crowdsourcing app that allows both citizens and representatives to identify, act and respond to public opinion on major issues.
The finalist for Challenge 3 – Modernizing Congressional Participation was Team Awesome, which also received honorable mention overall for its OpenHearing tool for congressional committee members to conduct virtual hearings that solicit and disseminate citizen testimony.
The finalist for Challenge 4 – Closing the Representation and Trust Gaps was HillHack for its Congress Connect website, which was also recognized as the overall winner of #Hack4Congress.
The finalist for Challenge 5 – Reforming Campaign Finance was Consensus, for its Bill Exploder to translate overly technical campaign finance reform bills into human language.
Team HillHack will join the winners of future #Hack4Congress competitions scheduled for this spring in Washington D.C. and the San Francisco Bay Area for a finalists presentation on Capitol Hill. Winners of the Cambridge, Washington, and Bay Area hackathons will have the opportunity to present their ideas to a panel of Members of Congress and their staffs. More information on #Hack4Congress challenges, teams and sponsors can be found at hack4congress.org.
#Hack4Congress is an opportunity to identify ideas and innovations to overcome the dysfunction gripping much of Congress. “Hacking” is not just for technologists. “Hacks” include innovations in policy, architecture, organizational process, art and design, and educational materials, as well as new software and technologies.
About the Ash Center
The Roy and Lila Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation advances excellence and innovation in governance and public policy through research, education and public discussion. Three major programs support our mission: the Program on Democratic Governance; the Innovations in Government Program; and the Rajawali Foundation Institute for Asia. For more information, visit www.ash.harvard.edu.
About the OpenGov Foundation
OpenGov is a small non-profit, non-partisan 501(c)3 foundation working to open government. That means making it easier for people to access and use as much government information as possible. We believe innovative technology and open data can help deliver democratic governments that listen to citizens, operate efficiently, and solve our shared challenges the smart way. We believe democracy means everyone should have the chance to be a hands-on contributor. Learn more about The OpenGov Foundation at www.opengovfoundation.org.
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