The federal government is a sprawling creature made up of three separate branches and anywhere between 60 and 1,089 agencies and departments, depending on how you count, according to the Competitive Enterprise Institute think tank. The average American doesn’t know how these agencies and branches operate because it’s difficult to sift through the bureaucratic layers.
Americans can’t be expected to participate in their government if they can’t find out how government operates. Stephen Dwyer wants to fix this by making Congress and the process of lawmaking more accessible to citizens.
Dwyer, who has been a senior advisor for House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) for 14 years, won a Door Stop Award from The Lincoln Network and the OpenGov Foundation for his work in launching the CivicApp. Every year the Door Stop Awards for Congressional Innovation and Transparency recognizes members of Congress and staffers who bring sustained, bipartisan, and meaningful change to the United States Congress. Dwyer’s work on the CivicApp not only helps improve transparency, it is an innovative way to improve government work while bringing constituents closer to their representatives. The CivicApp platform “enables constituents to use any Internet-connected device to initiate a constituent service request from their member of Congress,” according to DotGov Communications. The platform aims to reduce the time required to process a constituent request from weeks to minutes and enable constituents to quickly and efficiently get help.
Dwyer also works on the Bulk Data Task Force, which takes legislative data and “the work product of Congress” and makes it “fully, dynamically online,” Dwyer told Lincoln Network after receiving the Door Stop Award. Since its inception, the task force has achieved meaningful improvements like a fully up-to-date and accessible phone directory for all House staffers, Congress.gov site improvements and more, according to the Congressional Data Coalition.
Government transparency is essential; members of the public need to see for themselves what their representatives are doing to improve lives. The CivicApp platform is designed to do just that, while cutting down on response time. This way, constituents are taken care of quicker and with more transparency and effectiveness, which is exactly what the Door Stop Awards want to promote.
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