There’s an important feature in Word and other Office programs that we all have, and many people use, except the US Congress … document collaboration and comparison.
It’s even more amazing because most, if not all congressional offices have Microsoft Office.
An article about the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress which is trying to drag Capitol Hill into the 21st Century.
One of the suggestions from the committee is what the rest of us call document collaboration and use every day. This radical notion is described as
“A unified software program that makes it easier to track what changes have been made to legislative text, from the committee room to the House floor.”
In other words … Microsoft Word. See Starting with Document Collaboration
Ideally with Sharepoint or a version of OneDrive. There could be a single master copy of a bill that authorized people can edit. All these edits could be tracked with comments or explanatory notes.
As Rep. Tom Graves (R- Ga.) says “Microsoft Word has this – this is very simple – but Congress doesn’t,” .
It’s hard to believe that staffers don’t make some use of Word already. While the system could be official and centralized, Word has the tools to make tracking amendments to bills a lot easier.
Here’s some of the Word feature congress could, and probably is, being used in many offices.
Compare and Combine
At the very least to compare version of documents from different sources. Microsoft Word has document Compare and Combine on the Review.
Compare takes two documents and displays them side-by-side with differences noted.
Combine merged two documents into one with the different authors / sources noted in the single file.
Side-bar comments are also on the review tab.
Explanatory notes, questions, points of contention can all be noted.
Don’t forget our old friend, the highlight.
Highlights are easy to see as you flick through a document but can also be searched for.