Could telework resurrect the House Page Program?
It's true: The smart phone and e-mail killed the Page Program in the House.
The nearly 200-year-old program that introduces the inner workings of the government to students was also put to rest last month because consultants estimated that it cost $80,000 per page annually, and technology eliminated the need for pages to run through the halls on errands. Current pages and alumni of the program were saddened by the news. There was even a Facebook movement to reverse the decision.
“I can see the logic,” Jerry Papazian, a California consultant who leads the Capitol Page Alumni Association, told the Washington Post. Although he's still sad about it, Papazian acknowledged that technology does much of the work he performed as a page in 1971 and 1972.
Yet as the House Page Program closes, writer Josh Smith of GottaBeMobile has proposed instituting a telework-based page program.
“The same technology [that] made pages obsolete could also help revive a new telework page program at a lower cost and higher impact,” Smith said of his proposal.
He suggested that the next generation of pages work from home and be equipped with BlackBerrys issued by the federal government and a secure video connection to their designated representatives from whom they would receive daily assignments.
According to the Page Program’s website, the primary duties lend themselves to telework and include answering phones in the members’ cloakrooms, taking messages for House members and calling members in the House chamber to the phone.
“I will admit that the function of pages has changed and in some cases [been] marginalized by technology,” said one page quoted on the Washington Post's "2chambers" blog. “But the program, as I saw it, was an invaluable opportunity to show young people the true nature of Congress."
Alysha Sideman is the online content producer for Washington Technology.