Amid Pandemic, Congressional Digital Service Fellowship Launches to Improve Legislative Branch IT

Evgeniia Ozerkina/

Applications for the program must be submitted by May 10. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified Congress’ lack of technical savviness and infrastructure, subsequently sparking the launch of the Congressional Digital Service Fellowship.

Startup nonprofit TechCongress—a group that’s landed 29 technologist positions supporting the legislative branch since 2016—officially opened applications Thursday for a first-of-its-kind program to tackle the multitude of digital challenges plaguing America’s governing body.

“We are immediately recruiting a small tech team to place on the Hill, modeled on great efforts like the U.S. Digital Service, 18F, and Code for America, for an eight-month fellowship to support institutional staff to address the glaring technical capacity gaps that have become all-too-urgent during this pandemic,” the organization’s founder Travis Moore recently announced in a blog post.

During their short stint in the program, chosen participants will introduce and apply technology to revamp Congress’ functions. Some of the work will likely incorporate producing means that allow lawmakers to submit bills, cosponsors or statements digitally for the record, enabling remote committee legislative functions, modeling “office handbooks for telework and shepherding approval of private sector solutions for offices” like Slack, Microsoft Teams and Zoom, and representing the nonprofit in meetings or events. Ideal candidates will possess a range of technical skills and expertise, have experience working in or studying the technology sector and the ability to start in Washington D.C. June 15, and much more. 

Officials added that “experience on a government tech team (USDS, 18F, TTS, PIF, Code for America, Coding it Forward, state or local government digital services) is a big, big plus.”

TechCongress likened COVID-19 as the inspiration behind the fellowship to the crash of paving the way for the launch of the U.S. Digital Service during the Obama administration. 

“We believe this can serve as proof of concept for the long-standing proposal to build a Congressional Digital Service within Congress,” Moore wrote, “and to build momentum for an increased investment in tech infrastructure on Capitol Hill.”

Applications for the program are due May 10.