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Making Congressional Inquiries Easier

by John Carr

A photo of the dome of the U.S. Capitol building.

New presidential administrations often bring an onslaught of House and Senate Committee led inquiries into various federal and private activities. Under the Biden-Harris Administration, we can expect inquiries regarding the following:

  • How CARE Act funds were managed. 

  • Oversight into the COVID vaccines at HHS and other health-related entities.

  • Congressional subpoena enforcement matters.

  • Private sector inquiries (e.g., BigTech). 

  • And various senior leadership activities across many federal agencies (such as how they conducted themselves with the previous president’s various requests/orders).

These are important issues that have impacts on our daily lives, so how does Congress go about getting answers?

What Are Congressional Inquiries?

A congressional inquiry is an investigation by Congress (customarily initiated by a House or Senate committee or subcommittee) into a particular area or person of interest. Congressional committees have subpoena powers, which require people or entities to produce documents or testify in front of the committee. In many ways, they are like judicial proceedings, in that witnesses produce documents and other information to members of Congress, and hearings are conducted to hear the “evidence.” 

Unlike judicial proceedings, congressional inquiries are often politically driven, and the manner by which the investigations are conducted is left up to the committee or subcommittee chair. They are often deadline-driven, requiring those who receive the inquiry to quickly identify and prepare documents and develop a narrative across an enterprise to provide the necessary context.

Why Are Congressional Inquiries Important?

Over time, congressional oversight has continued to become more and more important to Congress in providing the public vital information on government performance or activities and helping to monitor compliance with public policies. This, in effect, often leads to the development of new legislation. It’s a critical process to ensure the federal government remains transparent to the American public, but doing so can grow difficult if federal agencies aren’t armed with the right tools.

How Everlaw Can Help

Everlaw is proud to support federal agencies in this work. Our technology allows for fast and efficient document sharing (sometimes called “virtual review rooms”) with outside parties. Additionally, the technology used must be secure, as the documentation being requested by Congress is likely sensitive in nature.

As a cloud-native solution, we allow our customers to limit the movement of data by inviting outside parties into our FedRAMP-Moderate authorized platform to review the documents. Because it’s likely that people who don’t normally access this type of technology will be exposed to a new interface and experience, the design must be intuitive. As one of our federal customer’s put it: 

“…you have a great product. I’ve used pretty much all of the ediscovery tools out there, and yours is easily the best, in my humble opinion — in terms of ease of use and interface design, but also the speed and sophisticated features behind the scenes. If I’m using an ediscovery platform again in the future, I hope it will be Everlaw!

Final Thoughts on Congressional Inquiries

With every incoming presidential administration comes a new agenda, ushering in a new set of priorities and initiatives that will shape every branch of the government. However, faulty and outdated processes can slow the work down of federal agencies quite drastically. That’s why it’s critical to leverage technology to not only expedite processes but to enhance the work of those who are utilizing it.

To learn more about how we can support your congressional inquiry needs, please contact our federal team or request a demo!