Posts Tagged ‘House of Representatives’

Skype, Oovoo given green light in Congress

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011 by Vbhotla

In an effort to “help enhance constituent communications,” the U.S. House of Representatives is authorizing the use of video chatting software Skype and Oovoo for Members and staff.  The sites, which were previously blocked as cybersecurity risks, are now permissible, following special licensing agreements designed especially to ensure that House rules are upheld and privacy and security are ensured.

From Skype’s “The Big Blog”:

Photo credit: AP/Getty images

“Skype’s engineers worked closely with the Congressional network security team to ensure that Skype is used safely for official business… In addition, Members of Congress and their staff Pokies can personally configure important privacy settings to provide the highest level of security available on Skype… We look forward to working with the U.S. Senate, as well as other government agencies and lawmakers around the globe to facilitate the use of Skype and other broadband-enabled applications. Skype will open up new channels of communication between government officials and the people they represent, and potentially help reduce costs, increase transparency, and improve communications, which is something I think we all agree is a good thing.”

Among Skype’s most vocal congressional supporters over the past year is GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.).

 

New travel rules for the House

Monday, May 24th, 2010 by Vbhotla
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) tightened up travel requirements for House members and staffers last week, after reports surfaced of some Representatives enjoying perks on taxpayer funded delegation travel.

The House has had rules governing travel in place since the 1970s, but the Wall Street Journal recently reported that some Representatives had enjoyed extensive perks on the taxpayer dime while traveling overseas, including purchasing alcohol, gifts, and items for family members, or pocketing leftover per diems.

The main changes to the rules include a provision forbidding lawmakers on official travel from flying business class on trips shorter than 14 hours, and requiring them to return any unused travel funds to the Treasury. Members and staffers travelling on official business are also prohibited from using funds for personal reasons. Certain aides are also now prohibited from accompanying members on overseas junkets. Attempts at making Congressional delegations bipartisan are also now required to be documented.

Members’ official travel (using government funds) is restricted to committee delegations. However, Members are also able to travel on private trips with approval; such trips fall under a strict, highly regulated approval and guidance structure. Speaker Pelosi has the authority to make changes to the travel rules unilaterally.

The rules from Speaker Pelosi can be found here, and Roll Call’s coverage of the new rules is here.

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