Impermanent committees too often get a bad rap in Washington. People are quick to point to the 2011 Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction—sometimes called the “Supercommittee”—or the more recent Joint Select Committee on Budget and Process Reform, both of which failed to achieve their lofty goals. That broad brush does not apply to the House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress (SCOMC), which has once again demonstrated that an exceptional approach can yield exceptional results: more than 60 percent of the committee’s 116th Congress recommendations have been implemented or are well on their way to being so.

Source: https://modernizecongress.house.gov/implementation 

In the last Congress, the SCOMC made 97 recommendations covering the full spectrum of the First Branch. That would be the end of the road for most committees. After a few glowing press releases and a floor speech or two, the report would be shelved and sheer inertia would propel Congress forward. Instead, the SCOMC has prioritized implementation of those recommendations in the 117th Congress, working with other committees, congressional support agencies and House administrators to see things through. At the same time, the SCOMC has continued to generate further ideas, to fine tune and even accept feedback on how newly implemented changes are faring.

So what does the SCOMC have to show for all its hard work?

  • An internal Human Resources Hub that should help professionalize the Hill work environment along with other changes to help improve staff retention and diversity.

  • Nonpartisan elements added to the New Member orientation to help encourage bipartisan collaboration and civility.

  • A streamlined process for communication with constituents and better access to congressional websites for individuals with disabilities.

  • Technological improvements for Hill offices and internal communications, such as the ability to electronically file committee reports.

There’s still a very long way to go—and not every recommendation has merit, but the Select Committee deserves credit for not being content with mere messaging, preferring instead to see their work all the way through. This should be the new standard for committees formed to address specific issues. And it should make committee-naysayers think twice before automatically dismissing this problem-solving approach.

Image credit: Zack Frank