WASHINGTON DC - Today, U.S. Representative Michael Honda (D-CA) unveiled the Hill’s first-ever crowd-sourced federal government website. In an effort to improve civic engagement in Congress, Rep Honda solicited design concepts from around the world. These “crowd-sourced” designs were voted on by Rep Honda’s constituents in California’s 15th District. The chosen design, submitted by Jane Madsen, is now online: http://honda.house.gov.
Rep Honda said, “The purpose of this website redesign is to move America closer to ‘Government 2.0’, where the public’s ability to access and provide advice to Members of Congress is enhanced by new technology and new online participation. Congress must take advantage of Web 2.0 technologies and transform the relationship between citizens and government. Instead of viewing the public as a customer, I believe that we should empower citizens to become our partners in shaping the future of our nation.”
This project comes on the heels of Rep. Honda’s provision in the recently passed Omnibus Bill to provide free access to Congress’ legislative databases. Rep. Honda, who placed a measure in the House bill directing Congress, the Library of Congress and the Government Printing Office to make its data available to the public in raw form, is enabling the public to access government data in a more user-friendly format than the government's own.
Rep. Honda’s website is recognized for its outstanding design and has won 3 Gold and 1 Silver Mouse Awards by the Congressional Management Foundation (CMF). Rep. Honda is the only Member of the House of Representatives to be chosen for a website award from CMF each time it was awarded.
Rep Honda’s new website includes many “firsts”. It is first to implement social media bookmarking in all web 2.0 content, first to allow trackbacks, first to implement the groundwork for a revolutionary tag cloud system, first to have full RSS feeds on every dynamic section, and first to have a twitter feed on an official site, among other firsts.
“These ‘firsts’ reflect the tradition of innovation in my Silicon Valley region,” said Rep Honda. “My constituents understand how crowd-sourcing can help more effectively harness constituent ideas and innovation. It is my hope that this process can empower the public to collaborate with Members of Congress. No longer will individuals simply petition their representatives – instead they should be our most valued advisors.”