Stuck in the 1970s? President Gerald Ford, left and then-House Majority Leader Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill share a moment in 1975. The way Congress operates is stuck in the era, argues the head of the Congressional Management Foundation. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)
The 2016 election year is almost upon us, but “Congress is largely still stuck in the 1970s,” argues Bradford Fitch, president of the Congressional Management Foundation.
Fitch, a former Hill staffer, would like to help shepherd his former employer into the modern era — "Congress 3.0," he calls it. He thinks his organization can make some headway by utilizing two multiyear grants they were just awarded to study up to 12 congressional offices, survey the constituents who interact with those offices, and come up with a best practice toolkit. “Congress 1.0 was your ‘Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,’” Fitch said, a simpler era symbolized by the 1939 Jimmy Stewart film. Congress 2.0, Fitch continued, was defined by the growth in congressional offices, both in staff size and diversity, in the 1970s.