How FiscalNote Will Change Our Government

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Answers by Tim Hwang, Founder & CEO, FiscalNote, on Quora.

A: Campaigns are the absolute best form of startup training in my opinion. They're high-stress events with a terminal outcome on Election Day. You learn to build operational and communications infrastructures very quickly and at very large scale. Imagine trying to hire and coordinate tens of thousands of employees across 50+ different offices to market and reach 150 million "customers" via phone and door. Now imagine doing that in less than 11 months.


A: The problem with the lawmaking process is two-fold. The first is the volume and the second is the complexity. In the United States, just on the legislative side, there are hundreds of thousands of proposed pieces of legislation every year. Sorting through and finding the provisions that you care about is incredibly difficult. Leveraging NLP and ML techniques to "find the needle in the hay stack" allows citizens and organizations to better find laws that impact them directly.
The second issue is around complexity. Law is not only created in legislatures, but the tens of thousands of regulators and courts around the country. The organization of all this information into a unified and integrated understanding of the law is a massive undertaking, but would be immensely powerful in helping citizens understand the underlying constituent components of the law.


A: Given the work we do in aggregating, organizing, and analyze the law, we have a lot of potential for changing the very functions of government. The lowest hanging fruit regarding impact is around the relationships between governments. When we talk about "the government" we are referring to the many different bodies that make it up (Congress, state legislatures, city halls, the White House, federal agencies/departments, state regulators, Governors, judicial courts, international regulators, foreign governments, etc.) The government currently spends an incredible amount of time trying to understand what everybody else is doing, but the aggregation and organization of the law would eliminate many of those barriers and the paralysis that occurs when one body is waiting for many others.

Given lowered "cycle times" within government, there is actually an opportunity to make government more efficient. Imagine a lawmaker in Maryland debating how an increase in the speed limit might impact collisions. Now imagine that as he considers this piece of legislation that he can monitor the Dept of Transportation's rules associated with that piece of legislation and the # of collisions tracked. Being able to access that rule and tie it directly to the impact, the lawmaker can directly monitor, in real-time, the implications of the law and course-correct if necessary. This "agile function" in government would be fairly revolutionary.

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