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Guide Issued on How IT Vendors Can Work With Congress

Future Congress released a white paper guiding technology vendors, civic hackers and individual developers in offering products helping Congress manage, update and maintain its information technology infrastructures, Fed Scoop reported Monday.

The paper provides information on the governance structure, technical policies and acquisitions processes for IT in the House, Senate and other legislative branch entities. Future Congress also included recommendations for how Congress can “facilitate a better and more effective IT landscape.” The list includes establishing a Congressional Digital Services, increasing the ceiling on staff pay to attract more IT talent and providing dedicated help desks to coordinate tech vendors and other civilians.

The Senate and House currently use “formal procurement,” authorized acquisition or unauthorized processes to buy technologies. Formal procurement enables officials to buy products for the institution as a whole, while authorized acquisition allows them to enter deals only with vendors approved by their chamber’s IT governance overseer. However, some procurement officials can also use software services that are non-compliant with the Congress’ IT governance rules through unauthorized acquisition.

The Office of the Chief Administrative Officer manages procurement for the House. The Senate relies on its Office of the Senate Sergeant at Arms for such process. Future Congress serves as “resource hub” composed of bipartisan advocacy organizations, academia and private companies that guide Congress in improving science and technology expertise.

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