House GOP group to work on WiFi, Skype and revamped House.gov

House GOP group to work on WiFi, Skype and revamped House.gov

Summary: Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) appointed Republican members of the House of Representatives to a Technology Operations Team that is tasked with giving the House a technology facelift.Among the group's immediate priorities is to expand wireless access on Capitol Hill, overhaul the House.

SHARE:

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) appointed Republican members of the House of Representatives to a Technology Operations Team that is tasked with giving the House a technology facelift.

Among the group's immediate priorities is to expand wireless access on Capitol Hill, overhaul the House.gov website and allow members and staff to use Skype to conduct business, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who will lead the group, told reporters Wednesday.

Boehner's statement and YouTube announcement:

"A critical component of House Republicans' Pledge to America was the promise to reform Congress and restore public trust in the institution. New technology and digital media are an important part of that process and are helping to enhance the way we serve our constituents.

WiFi on Capitol Hill - Expanding the wireless network for house members was his first priority, Chaffetz told Roll Call. It is currently limited to the House chambers.

House.gov - Chaffetz said he wants to make the House Website more transparent and easier to use as well as establish standards for members and committees to follow for the release of information, documents, agendas, meeting minutes and member's voting records, according to Roll Call. Currently members and committees follow their own rules, which results in some that are nothing more than a welcome page to others that are bursting with unorganized information.

"It's been years since the site itself has been refreshed, and so we want to make the proceedings of the House as open and transparent as possible," he said.

The group is aiming to relaunch House.gov April 1.

Skype in the House - Boehner has been a proponent of Skype for more than a year. Last April he wrote a letter to then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), asking her to lift the House ban on peer-to-peer file sharing programs or grant an exception for video conferencing software. Instead member's use "costly" video conference software. According to Roll Call:

While GOP leaders have not revoked the ban on file-sharing software, Boehner's spokesman indicated something might be in the works.

"Not yet," Michael Steel said of permitting Skype, "but we're trying to encourage the use of popular, low-cost video conferencing solutions like Skype and working on a solution for the House that is safe and effective for our Members and their constituents."

A GOP aide said the group is looking into allowing Members and staff to use Skype on laptops connected only to the wireless Internet network that the House provides to the public, rather than the chamber's wired connection.

Also appointed to the team are House Administration Committee Chairman Dan Lungren (R-Calif.), GOP Conference Vice Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), who sends out Bits & Bytes, a weekly New Media clipping service highlighting New Media-related articles, and Reps. Sean Duffy (R-Wisc.), Michael McCaul (R-Texas), and Bob Latta (R-Ohio). Boehner said the committee team will include Democrats as well.

Related Content:

Topics: Mobility, CXO, Collaboration, IT Employment, Wi-Fi, Social Enterprise

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

14 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • RE: House GOP group to work on WiFi, Skype and revamped House.gov

    Republicans don't have the mental capacity to upgrade anything. My money is they will outsource someone to do it. They fear technology like they fear statistics and facts.
    "Boehner said the committee team will include Democrats as well." Meaning, we need someone intelligent to build it for us.
    trust2112@...
    • Wow

      @trust2112@... Only one comment on this article about upgrading the technology in the capitol building and you use your time to deride and belittle the mental capacity of Republicans? If you can prove that they aren't capable of directing a project such as this, please provide it. Otherwise, how about making your comments meaningful and useful?
      DAUnderwood
      • Air Force 3

        @DAUnderwood If the Republicans had the brains to upgrade the House tech, they'd have the brains to win a majority and send Nancy Pelosi back to getting groped in the TSA lines with the rest of us.

        Oh, wait...
        Robert Hahn
    • RE: House GOP group to work on WiFi, Skype and revamped House.gov

      @trust2112@...

      Moron alert.
      Hallowed are the Ori
  • RE: House GOP group to work on WiFi, Skype and revamped House.gov

    Geez, I hope they have someone with a bit of knowledge of wifi security.
    Au1
    • RE: House GOP group to work on WiFi, Skype and revamped House.gov

      @Au1
      [i]Geez, I hope they have someone with a bit of knowledge of wifi security.[/i]

      It's the Federal government. Of course they don't. :)
      Hallowed are the Ori
  • The group is aiming to relaunch House.gov April 1.

    That should be interesting. Committee formed mid-March; new website April 1. Must be an exciting new header graphic or something.
    springerj
  • Sell the capital building

    Save some money, make lobbiest work for it and move congressional members to an office back in their district or offices in or near their respective state capitals. They can vote and meet using any number of conferencing systems (skype for just a few not for the big meets). The only requirement, it must be recorded and entered into the congressional record. Cut all the damn perks and office staff and make these clowns actually work instead of pawning it off to a staffer. Put in 12 year term limits and stop F'n around. We need some serious people to clean this disaster up that has been ongoing since Nixon.
    relwolf
    • The disasters started way before Nixon, and mostly during democratic

      administrations.

      However, no one is without blame, and republicans will have to take some of the responsibility for the messes in congress and in government in general.

      But, specifically, what disaster is it that Nixon is responsible for, other than the scandal known as "Watergate"? That scandal was not about governance, by the way. So, what disaster, related to government, was Nixon responsible for? Be specific and with details.
      adornoe
  • RE: House GOP group to work on WiFi, Skype and revamped House.gov

    Sometimes I wonder why so many technologists are democrats when the republicans seem to be more interested in pushing tech forward.
    CobraA1
    • Would you mind explaining that statement?

      Elaboration would be appreciated.
      adornoe
  • RE: House GOP group to work on WiFi, Skype and revamped House.gov

    Interesting comments.
    Bottom line: dems and their minions will do or say anything to maintain their status quo that has been the standard of failure for over 70 years....
    edcoyle
  • Why not keep it simple?

    I can see tech lobbyists standing in line, but why not just give the job to Apple? They can deliver and have it operational within a month, which is faster than a lot of lobbyists can even arrange for free "educational trips".

    If the politician is reasonably bright he (or she) can have a MacBook Pro. Otherwise an iPad and/or iPhone should suffice.

    But I guess it's not acceptable to get something operational in a fraction of the time normally spent "considering" it.
    Ken_z
  • Errr

    Why not using something aside from Skype for sensetive government business. If they're keeping the Skying just for house business then how about something like Microsoft Lync or from someone else?
    Gis Bun