Digital Transformation

5 min

Embracing Digital Transformation in the United States Congress

U.S. House of Representatives

Strategic Partners

In this digital age, the United States Congress has been diligently working on modernizing and transforming its paper-based processes. As a non-partisan staffer in the United States House of Representatives, Kirsten Gullickson is part of a team responsible for leading this digital revolution. The primary focus has been on managing, distributing, and archiving official documents and proceedings both physically and digitally.


The digital transformation journey in Congress has not been an easy one, as integrating digital systems with centuries-old paper processes presents numerous challenges. However, the pandemic served as a catalyst for Congress to adapt and innovate. One notable example is the electronic submission of bills and committee reports. Previously, members of the House had to physically submit printed copies of their bills in a wooden box called the “hopper.” In April 2020, the Speaker of the House directed the Clerk to develop an electronic alternative to the physical hopper, which became known as the “e-hopper.”


The creation of the e-hopper was a collaborative effort involving more than 20 Clerk staff members, working tirelessly over a single weekend. It has since become the primary way to submit bills and is expected to become a permanent addition to the House practice. Moreover, committees can now electronically submit reported measures, reports, and related files. As a result, 95 percent of all committee reports have been submitted electronically since the solution’s implementation.


Modernization in Congress is not a new concept. The push for digital transformation has been driven by both members and their staff, as well as institutional employees. In 2019, the U.S. House created the Select Committee on House Modernization to investigate, study, hold public hearings, and develop recommendations for making Congress more effective, efficient, and transparent. The committee’s focus includes digital transformation and was originally set to expire in February 2020, but its mandate was extended.


In addition to the Select Committee, a small group of individuals from civil society organizations, universities, libraries, and non-profits advocate for digital transformation. They regularly hold open public meetings via an organization called the “Bulk Data Task Force,” which was created in 2012. The task force’s original purpose was to examine the increased dissemination of congressional information via bulk data download by non-government groups, supporting openness and transparency in the legislative process.


Data standardization is a crucial aspect of digital transformation in Congress. It is key to exchanging data and documents within the legislative branch, which includes the House, the U.S. Senate, the Library of Congress, and the Government Publishing Office. One primary effort has been to move all official documents from a proprietary digital typesetting format to a machine-readable XML schema called “United States Legislative Markup” (USLM), which also uses the international standard “Akoma Ntoso.” If you want to learn more about this work, you can access the Innovation Hub hosted by the United States Government Publishing Office (GPO) at the following URL:


In conclusion, the United States Congress has made significant strides in embracing digital transformation, driven by a commitment to modernization and the need to adapt to unforeseen circumstances such as the pandemic. The shift towards electronic submission of bills and committee reports, along with data standardization, showcases Congress’s dedication to making legislative processes more effective, efficient, and transparent. As this digital transformation continues, it is imperative that Congress remain open to innovation and collaboration, allowing it to better serve the American people in the 21st century.

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