The 2017 Congressional Innovation Fellows have now found their homes in Congress for the year. It’s a great set of placements; three of the four fellows will be serving in the Senate, compensating for our House-centric placements in 2016.
- Sunmin Kim is serving with Senator Brian Schatz and supporting on emerging issues in transportation, including transportation data and autonomous vehicles.
- Chris Soghoian is serving with Senator Ron Wyden and supporting on cybersecurity and surveillance issues.
- Maurice Turner is serving with the Majority Staff of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (reporting to Chairman Senator Ron Johnson) and supporting on cybersecurity issues.
- Joel Usher is serving with the Minority Staff of the House Oversight Committee (reporting to Ranking Member Elijah Cummings) and supporting its Information Technology Subcommittee work.
At the beginning of the year, the fellowship began with a two week orientation, which focused on Congressional processes and included topics like committee jurisdiction, House and Senate rules and how to make use of the many resources available to Hill staff, from the Congressional Research Service to Congress.gov.
The highlights of the week included an opening forum with Rep. Henry Waxman about his predictions for the 115th Congress, and tips from New America President Anne-Marie Slaughter on how to succeed in Washington. We had a frank conversation with Alvaro Bedoya, the former Chief Counsel for the Senate Judiciary on Privacy, Technology and the Law, about what makes for an effective staffer in Congress. We toured the Library of Congress, and we met with staff from Rep. Matsui, Rep. McCaul, R Street, the Legislative Branch Capacity working group and Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans, among others.
We made some changes to our orientation from last year— like spending more time in the hallways of Congress and focusing on how Congress works, rather than examining specifics of tech policy. Like last year, we learned more about how to refine the orientation and placement program for 2018. Stay tuned for more on that as well as a series of blogs from the fellows themselves about what they hope to get out of the Congressional Innovation Fellowship.