An open letter to America’s elected officials and staff on the release of Madison 3.0.
Dear Elected Representatives and Staff:
Public service today is no cakewalk. On the best days, it is insanely difficult to work in a legislature; on most days, success is virtually impossible. You and your colleagues signed up to represent the public’s views in government, helping to build a stronger community for your neighbors and a brighter future for your kids. That’s one of the most critical jobs on earth. It is also one of the most difficult.
Ask yourself: do you have everything you need to be the best elected representative possible? Enough staff? Enough time? The best possible systems, tools and technology?
If you answered yes, you are the luckiest elected official in the world. But if you answered no, then you need to know about today’s release of the new-and-improved Madison online policymaking software.
WATCH: Governing Better, Together, With Madison
Madison is lawmaking for the Internet Age, built by our world-class team of technologists here at The OpenGov Foundation to help you, your staff and your constituents govern better, together. Madison, first launched in 2011, has already helped the U.S. Congress to protect a free and open Internet from special-interests— SOPA— while helping hundreds of thousands of everyday Americans see, shape and understand it all. Madison has already helped deliver the first crowdsourced legislation in the history of the U.S. Congress— The OPEN ACT— and first crowdsourced law in the history of the federal government— The DATA Act, signed into law by President Barack Obama in May 2014. Madison has already helped the Obama White House create its playbook for public participation. Madison has already helped diverse communities from Washington, D.C. — Drafts.DC.Gov— to Wichita, K.S. — Drafts.Wichita.Gov— create smarter laws, working with residents and stakeholders, not in spite of or against them.
The common thread? Forward-thinking policymakers and staff like you who understand, to put it lightly, the significant limitations of paper-based policymaking— and who know that there are better ways to get the job done. Because right now, your entire government, policymaking process and your work as a public servant can only go so far as the paper at the center of it all. Until your legislature, legislative systems and legislative data are in step with our times— digital instead of paper-based, collaborative instead of combative, efficient and effective instead of gridlocked and always playing catch-up— you, your staff, your community and your constituents will continue to be frustrated. Stick with your paper-based legislature, and you won’t be able to achieve everything you set out to do when you and your family decided to enter public service. It’s that simple.
Let’s be honest: in an age of Google Docs and the iPhone, paper-based legislatures should be a thing of the past. And we both know the coming transformation of your legislature— all legislatures, regulatory bodies, and all of the critical information flowing through them— will take a lot of work. A seismic operational shift like this takes money, know-how, time and trust. Four things that are in outrageously short supply, whether you serve in the United States Congress or a small city council. You need to rebuild your paper-based legislative airplane while it’s flying. But it can’t land and it definitely can’t crash. You’ll need a lot of help. With Madison, you can get started upgrading today, for free, with our trusted team, our proven approach and our years of experience working in and around legislatures across America.
Together, we can modernize and upgrade your policymaking process with Madison in as little as 30 minutes. It really is that straight-forward. I repeat: say the word and in as little as 30 minutes your community will go from governing like this…
…to governing better, together, like this.
I know you’re busy, so let’s get down to brass tacks: what’s in it for you, your team, your legislature and your constituents? With Madison and the support of our team at The OpenGov Foundation, you will:
- Gain More Support and Visibility for Your Policy Goals — Transforming your legislation into Madison’s modern, Internet-ready and collaborative experience requires just a few minutes. But it turns the hard-to-find, hard-to-share paper-based policies you are working so hard to pass into a digital engagement experience. Your constituents can find it on Google! They can share their views and ideas with a few clicks! Isn’t that how it should be? Madison is a one-stop-shop for you to respond — and show the world you’re responsive — while at the same time building new support, new allies and new contacts.
- Not Need to Buy Anything, Bust Your Budget or Hire Tech Teams — Madison is 100% free and open source software. Yes, that means $0 cost. How? We’re an IRS-certified 501©3 non-profit. Our mission is to make your legislature more effective, efficient and accessible for you, your colleagues and those you represent. You have plenty of options, too. We can host Madison for your community. We can set it up on your legislature’s servers, too. Whatever works best for you, your team and your current situation.
- Create Smarter Policy, Putting All the World’s Knowledge and Expertise to Work for You — Every day, the issues you have to work on get more and more complex. Delivering the best policy for your people requires a dizzying array of technical, issue-specific knowledge and expertise. You do not want to make mistakes. Opening your policymaking process with Madison opens up all of the world’s knowledge and a virtually unlimited army of experts ready and willing to help you get it right. Look at how Chicago, IL is working with universities, innovators and its residents to craft smart policy on the Internet of Things, or how Washington, D.C. is working with open data experts to build cutting-edge rules for public access to government data. Imagine if you had that intellectual firepower in your foxhole? That’s what Madison can do for you.
- Rebuild Trust and Confidence in Your Legislature, Yourself and Your Community — Let’s be frank: you know and I know that you and your colleagues, and every legislator in America, is working with far less public trust than you need. Today’s Gallup polling shows that a paltry 18% approve of how the U.S. Congress is doing its lawmaking job. While you hopefully have a more public support than that, you’ll need a lot more public trust and confidence in order to solve our multiplying challenges. Create your policies with Madison, and the trust in your policies go up. No fear of smoke- and special-interest-filled rooms — you can show your work and your reasoning openly, and stand behind it. No frustrations about not being able to take a day off of work to show up and be heard — your constituents, business and community leaders, experts, everyone can weigh in 24/7. Madison means fewer avoidable legislative mistakes, fewer unintended consequences, and fewer surprises for the people you represent — who will soon decide who will represent them moving forward. You already post your legislation online, albeit in rather inaccessible, paper-based and hard-to-find ways. Why not reap the public benefit and earn the public trust by doing the same thing, but way better, with Madison?
I invite you to see Madison 3.0 in action in real legislative environments, like Wichita, KS and Washington, D.C. Click around to get a feel for Internet Age legislating. Watch a short tutorial video. Read what other elected officials and staff are saying about Madison, and see how Madison has helped other communities like yours. Step back and compare policymaking with Madison to, well, the paper-based, inaccessible and frankly unworkable alternatives you’re stuck with today.
If you’re ready to learn more or get rolling, all you have to do is get in touch: You can email us by clicking here. You can click here to Tweet us @FoundOpenGov. You can call me directly at any time on +1-760-659-0631. Our team is on stand-by, and will help get you and your community governing better, together, with Madison.
I can’t promise Madison will make everything in your legislature and your life easy overnight. But I can guarantee governing with Madison, and working with The OpenGov Foundation, will make policymaking a lot easier, a lot more productive, and help you make a bigger difference in your community.
Isn’t that why you signed up to serve in the first place?
Executive Director & Co-Founder
The OpenGov Foundation
Madison 3.0, and all of the work of The OpenGov Foundation, is generously supported by The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Shuttleworth Foundation, the Rita Allen Foundation, the Consumer Technology Association, and the amazing men and women with whom The OpenGov Foundation partners in communities, governments and civil society organizations across America.
Madison 3.0 would not be possible without seriously talented people who deserve our thanks: The OpenGov Foundation’s world-class developers and designers, past and present. On the development side: Seth Etter, Tanner Doshier, Bill Hunt, Chris Birk, Ross Tsiomenko, Sean Keefer, inSourceCode, and all the open source contributors listed here. On the design side: John Athayde, Scout Addis, and Bryan Connor. On the operations and engagement side: Meag Doherty, Aaron Bartnick, Nicko Margolies, Leili Slutz, and Mary Kate Mezzetti. All rockstars. All civic innovators. All amazing people who made Madison 3.0 possible.