The Congressional Digital Service Act of 2017 - Draft Legislation

Shared for feedback by OpenGov

The Congressional Digital Service Act

Over the last decade, rapid advances in technology have changed the way Americans communicate, collaborate, and do business. These developments have drastically changed the way constituents communicate with their Congressional representatives and the expectations they have for constituent services.

However, as district sizes and constituent communication volume have exploded and MRAs have been cut, the infrastructure of technology and tools that support that institution have been dramatically outpaced by technology trends elsewhere.

The Congressional Digital Service Act will authorize a Congressional Digital Service, housed within the Library of Congress, to develop a team of technologists, designers, user experience researchers, and developers. The team will identify key challenges and process pain points in Congress and district offices, and help build tools or clear procurement barriers to ensure the legislative branch has world class tools to listen to and engage with constituents, collaborate on legislation, and perform core functions.

A more comprehensive briefing document can be found here.

Read the document

The Congressional Digital Service Act of 2017 - Draft Legislation

A BILL

To establish the Congressional Digital Service in the Library of Congress to assist offices of the legislative branch in modernizing and improving the digital services of such offices, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SEC. 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the ‘‘Congressional Digital Service Act of 2017’’.

SEC. 2. CONGRESSIONAL DIGITAL SERVICE.

(a) ESTABLISHMENT.—There is hereby established in the Library of Congress the Congressional Digital Service (hereafter in this Act referred to as the ‘‘Service’’).

(b) EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR; DEPUTY DIRECTOR.—

(1) EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR.—The Service shall be headed by an Executive Director, who shall be appointed by the Librarian of Congress from among a list of nominees prepared by the Board of Directors of the Service, subject to the approval of the Board of Directors of the Service. 

(2) DEPUTY DIRECTOR.—The Librarian of Congress, upon the recommendation of the Executive Director and subject to the approval of the Board of Directors of the Service, shall appoint a Deputy Director for the Service. 

(3) CRITERIA FOR APPOINTMENT.—The appointment of the Executive Director and the Deputy Director shall be made without regard to political affiliation and solely on the basis of fitness to further the duties of the Service. 

(4) REMOVAL.—Subject to the approval of the Board of Directors of the Service, the Librarian of Congress may at the Librarian’s discretion remove the Executive Director or the Deputy Director. 

(c) DUTIES.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—The Service shall assist offices of the legislative branch in modernizing and improving their digital services, including services made available internally and services made available to the public. 

(2) SPECIFIC GOALS.—In carrying out its duties under this Act, the Service shall promote the following goals: 

	(A) The establishment and use of performance standards, based on best practices in modern information system technology, to measure the quality and cost-effectiveness of public digital services. 

	(B) The collaboration and coordination of programmers, designers, and project managers in the design, implementation, and delivery of public digital services. 

	(C) The modernization of the processes and practices for the construction and procurement of public digital services, as well as the internal digital systems which support the delivery of such services. 

	(D) The expansion of the use of common platforms, services, and tools. 

	(E) The use of experts from the private sector to assist and support ongoing improvements in the quality and cost-effectiveness of public digital services. 

	(F) The improvement in congressional and public access to and use of legislative information, including expanding the availability of such information online, in real-time, and in machine-readable formats. 

(3) DIGITAL SERVICES DEFINED.—In this Act, the term ‘‘digital services’’ means services involving the electronic delivery of information, including data and content, across multiple platforms and devices, and may include transactional services. 

(d) ADVISORY COMMITTEE.—The Executive Director may appoint an advisory committee, whose members may include representatives of private entities, to provide advice on the goals and operations of the Service. Members of such an advisory committee shall serve without pay, and shall not be entitled to compensation for travel expenses or any other per diem for time spent in the performance of the duties of the advisory committee.

SEC. 3. PRIVATE SECTOR ASSISTANCE.

(a) ASSIGNMENT OF EXPERTS FROM PRIVATE SECTOR.—The Executive Director of the Service may establish and conduct a fellowship program under which employees of private entities with expertise in the design and delivery of public digital services may be assigned to the Service to support the Service in carrying out its duties under this Act.

(b) TREATMENT OF ASSIGNED EMPLOYEES UNDER

VARIOUS FEDERAL LAWS.—An employee of a private entity who is assigned to the Service under the program under this section shall be considered to be an employee of the Library of Congress for purposes of—

(1) chapter 73 of title 5, United States Code; 

(2) sections 201, 203, 205, 207, 208, 209, 603, 606, 607, 643, 654, 1905, and 1913 of title 18, United States Code; 

(3) sections 1343, 1344, and 1349(b) of title 31, United States Code; 

(4) chapter 171 of title 28, United States Code (commonly referred to as the ‘‘Federal Tort Claims Act’’), and any other Federal tort liability statute; 

(5) the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 (5 U.S.C. App.); and 

(6) section 1043 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986. 

SEC. 4. BOARD OF DIRECTORS.

(a) MEMBERSHIP.—The Board of Directors of the Service consists of the following individuals (or their designees):

(1) The Speaker of the House of Representatives. 

(2) The Majority Leader of the House of Representatives.

(3) The Minority Leader of the House of Representatives. 

(4) The Minority Whip of the House of Representatives. 

(5) The Majority Leader of the Senate. 

(6) The Minority Leader of the Senate. 

(7) The Majority Whip of the Senate. 

(8) The Minority Whip of the Senate. 

(9) The chair of the Joint Committee on the Library. 

(10) The vice-chair of the Joint Committee on the Library. 

(11) The most senior member of the Joint Committee on the Library who is a Member of the House of Representatives from the minority party of the House.  

(12) The most senior member of the Joint Committee on the Library who is a Senator from the minority party of the Senate. 

(13) The Librarian of Congress. 

(b) POWERS.—

(1) ACTIONS AUTHORIZED BY MAJORITY VOTE OF MEMBERS.—With the vote of a majority of its members, the Board of Directors may take any of the following actions: 

	(A) Approving the appointment of the Executive Director and Deputy Director of the Service, as provided under paragraphs (1) and (2) of section 2(b). 

	(B) Approving the removal of the Executive Director and Deputy Director of the Service, as provided in paragraph (4) of section 2(b). 

	(C) Directing the Service to carry out a project consistent with its duties under section 2(c). 

	(D) Prohibiting the Service from initiating a new project, or directing the Service to terminate an ongoing project, under section 2(c). 

(2) SPECIAL RULE REGARDING LIBRARIAN OF CONGRESS.—The Librarian of Congress may not participate in any vote taken by the Board of Directors under this subsection other than to break a tie in the votes cast by the other members of the Board. 

(c) SENSE OF CONGRESS REGARDING FREQUENCY OF MEETINGS.—It is the sense of Congress that the Board should meet at least once each year.

SEC. 5. FUNDING.

(a) AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.—There are authorized to be appropriated for fiscal year 2018 and each succeeding fiscal year such sums as may be necessary to carry out this Act.

(b) AUTHORITY TO ACCEPT GIFTS.—In accordance with sections 2 through 5 of the Act entitled ‘‘An Act to create a Library of Congress Trust Fund Board, and for other purposes’’, approved March 3, 1925 (2 U.S.C. 156-161), the Librarian of Congress may accept gifts or bequests or devises for the benefit of the Service.

3 Comments

Showing 1 to 3 of 3 entries