House Green-Lights Use of Low-Cost Video Conferencing Tools | Speaker.gov

The new Republican majority in the House is announcing today that Members of Congress will now be allowed to use video conferencing tools Skype and ooVoo to better engage with the American people.

Speaker Boehner released the following comment lauding the announcement:

“This is another example of the new Republican majority using digital tools to better engage with and listen to the American people. We’re committed to keeping our pledge to lead a House that is more open and that gives Americans a real-time voice in their government.”

As ZDNet reported in March, Speaker Boehner “has been a proponent of Skype for more than a year.”

In fact, it was in April 2010 that House Republicans first urged Democratic leaders to allow Members of Congress to use these kinds of popular, low-cost services to help lawmakers listen to constituents and save taxpayer dollars in the process. Republicans pointed out that House rules allowed the use of taxpayer funds for costly, dated video conferencing technology – but forbid the use of free tools readily available online. With the House cutting its budget, and a renewed focus on cutting spending to create a better environment for private-sector job growth, the old way of doing things no longer makes sense.

The House Administration Committee says the change announced today gives lawmakers access to these low-cost tools while maintaining “the necessary level of IT security within the House network.”

As the Speaker noted, this is only the latest effort by the new Republican majority to keep its Pledge “to ensure transparency and accountability in Congress.”

For example, in May, the House rolled out a more modern version of House.gov that gives visitors easier access to information on what’s happening in Congress.  In April, Speaker Boehner and Leader Cantor called for “publicly releasing the House’s legislative data in machine-readable formats” like XML. And earlier this year, the House began posting legislation online for at least three days before a vote – another key element of the Pledge to America.

Learn more about today’s announcement on CHA.House.Gov.