As COVID-19 weaves deeper into the American fabric of life, we are consistently keeping in touch with friends, family, and work through technology. Pre-Corona nearly 3% of people worked from home with the number rising exponentially in the past 10 years. This move saved businesses billions while allowing employees flexible work schedule benefits. The great number of jobs that have gone online in the past three months will remain that way due to simple savings by businesses. Our government may learn from these businesses to keep We the People informed and government services running while saving money all from virtual governance.
The City of Chicago City Council had an uproarious Zoom meeting in April 2020. It turned into a fiasco quickly as there were no procedures and regulations pertaining to having a virtual meeting. When several Alderman tried to intercede to use regulations, mute buttons were released and interruptions became a quick norm. Similar meetings were held across America to keep We the People informed. These meetings were posted on government websites and through social media. That’s great but if they were anything like Chicago’s meeting then they weren’t very productive. Every government from the United States Congress to your local municipal town council should replicate the Town of Lake in Colorado. They produced a simple yet effective ordinance in a relatively short time to produce meetings that residents can review. One very important piece of legislation would require that the government goes online during national to local duress. From pandemics to hurricanes all rules and regulations for participation should adhere in the same manner as if the meeting were held in the council chambers. There were 15 natural disasters a year from 2016-2018 that wiped out entire cities, coasts, and governments. If these governments had the ability to meet online with proper procedures their response to the disasters could be more efficient. It’s not just a “corona” request, it’s a 21st Century requirement.
Big government means big business which generally equals big money. The federal government has over 2 million employees. They are spread far across the United States but mainly all report back to Washington, D.C. at one time or another. A study in 2016 found the government paid $1.7 billion a year for 770,000 buildings while federal jobs moved to new buildings. Does that make sense? Nope. If the government were to keep their newly “work from home” employees at home not only could they reduce buildings, building insurance and maintenance costs but better quality employees would be attracted to the flexible schedule benefits. Besides employees that are needed for customer service related positions, the rest can stay home. New technology will not only allow said employees to communicate with co-workers through numerous software and apps but it can create an online network for disasters and pandemics. A virtual federal work network would continually enable citizens to receive their much-needed services interruption-free.
Technically speaking it is completely Constitutional for the government to meet online. Our Constitution does not state that any meeting needs to be in person. Our government will need to change in-person requirements for documents and signatures to move employees fully online. Several important documents like birth and death certificates, FEMA benefits, insurance checks, etc need personal signatures for them to be deemed official. But we sign our name online all day for different forms already through unique pin numbers to hundreds of online signature software.
The only thing stopping the United States from recovering from disasters and pandemics is our government’s refusal to be a tech-savvy world leader. If we take meetings, employees, and documents online, we can resume our American greatness. Stay safe and healthy America!
Coming May 25th, 2020, We The People: Policy For Progress my first published collection of political solutions for the people. Look for it in the Kindle Bookstore.
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