Apps for Working Government seeks to highlight software applications that can help reduce partisan gridlock and increase legislative productivity at the federal, state, or local level. Apps can be submitted in one of two categories:
Educational tools: Apps that visualize or analyze data to illustrate the problem of partisan gridlock, legislative productivity (or lack thereof) and/or related consequences. This category can include apps that analyze and evaluate the polarization or productivity of Congress, state legislatures, and local or individual lawmakers. Keep in mind that your app should have an interactive component. Data visualization is encouraged but your submission should be an actual app, and not just a graph or other image.
Solutions & action tools: Apps that citizens can use to communicate with legislators or mobilize other citizens, or tools legislators and citizens can use to advance collaboration. Submitters are required to explain how the app can be used to help reduce partisan gridlock and increase legislative productivity.
Below, you’ll find a few examples for each category. For data sources, check out the Data tab. You’re certainly welcome to use other sources of data. Feel free to toss out some ideas or relevant data, and get the mental juices flowing by joining the Discussion Phase. We’ll update this page along with the Data page based on contributions to the discussion.
1. Highlight the problem
Is partisan gridlock a problem? How can gridlock be defined or measured using data? Create an app that shows whether we’re more gridlocked now than at other times. Are extreme partisan voices represented disproportionally? How can we measure gridlock or legislative productivity around this issue?
2. Consequences & Causes
Why should we care about gridlock? Create an app that shows the consequences or causes of gridlock. Are there correlations between gridlock / legislative productivity and other things that matter to us (e.g. consumer confidence, job creation, stock market performance, etc.)?
3. Lawmaker Accountability
Which lawmakers contribute most to gridlock and which lawmakers try to solve it? Create an app that uses data to rank or measure this.
Can we measure the productivity of lawmakers independent of their voting record on issues (e.g. based on legislation sponsored or introduced, and whether that legislation has become law, etc.)? Anyone can show up and vote the party line, but who’s actually contributing to solving problems? Create an app that ignores the usual ideological litmus tests (based on roll call data) and uses other data to measure the productivity of individual lawmakers. How could lawmakers be evaluated on productivity in ways that are similar to the way most of us are evaluated in our jobs?
4. Evaluating Candidates
Can you help voters predict whether a candidate will be extremely liberal or extremely conservative? Incumbents have voting records, but candidates often don’t. Create an app that predicts how candidates will act if they’re elected, using data such as campaign contributions.
5. Help Lawmakers Understand Public Opinion
Can you give lawmakers tools that help them better understand and read public opinion? Create an app that uses polling data to provide lawmakers and others with a snapshot of public opinion or how it’s changed over time. Use external polling data or your own, though keep in mind that it can be difficult to collect a random sample using a web or mobile app.
6. Help Voters Understand What They Want
Can you engage voters/citizens in deliberative exercises to help them understand their own views relative to lawmakers, or understand where they would be willing to compromise?
Solutions & Action Tools
1. Identifying Common Ground
Can you create tools to help lawmakers, citizens, and others identify points of common ground? Can a software app assist in identifying policy options with bi-partisan support?
2. Getting More People Engaged
Gridlock can sometimes result from more extreme voices dominating the debate. Can you create tools that help entice underrepresented voices to engage and participate? These underrepresented groups could be ideological groups such as Libertarians, Centrists, etc. or demographic groups such as lower income citizens, minority groups, etc. How can you make it interesting, relevant, and easy for people to engage who aren’t activists, pundits, or partisans?
3. Provide Tools to Drive Reform
Can you create tools that help people communicate with lawmakers about reforms that could reduce gridlock and increase legislative productivity?
Have a question about any of the suggestions above? Want to add to what’s here, suggest new ideas or relevant data, or highlight an existing app? Join the Discussion Phase.