Thursday, December 8, 2011

GOVERNMENT 3.0: Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) & Rep Eric Cantor (R-VA) Host Facebook Coders "Hackathon" on Capitol Hill

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Maryland Juice caught wind of a great new initiative from Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer's office this week. Along with Virginia's GOP Rep. Eric Cantor, the two officials invited programmers that create Facebook tools and applications to come to the Hill and help brainstorm ways of improving government services. Yesterday, the blog wrote about the innovative new project:
Facebook developers, Congressional staff and members of Congress, transparency experts and digital innovators, will be welcomed to Capitol Hill today as Congressional leaders host the first Congressional Facebook Developer Hackathon.

The bipartisan Hackathon was announced by the offices of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland.

According to a press release, the event will, “explore the potential connections between legislative data, constituent correspondence, and social media.”

The format of the four-hour Hackathon will include general sessions and breakout sessions on a range of topics, from casework and constituent services, legislative workflow (floor operations and committee meetings and how they’re structured), and press and public relations.

According to Stephen Dwyer, director of online communications for Whip Hoyer, the organizers had to close the event after registering 250 people. The organizers will release a report after the Hackathon, since the event will not be streamed online.

Maryland Juice has pushed elected officials he knows in the area to get on board the digital revolution and start thinking of ways to reinvent and bring greater efficiencies to constituent outreach and other work. In some ways, I'm actually surprised to see Congress getting ahead of local government on this....

Amazingly, the Facebook coders on the Hill didn't just come together to talk - they actually got right down to work. You can see more photos and discussion of the event at the Gov 2.0 GovFresh blog. As they note in their headline, Rep. Hoyer kicked off the entire event with a call to "Make a platform." Nice to see creative thinking out there!

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