For everyone who feels as if there are times when Congress doesn’t seem to collectively know how to do their jobs, take some comfort in the fact that this week saw the announcement of not one, but two iPad apps created specifically to make work easier for Congressional staff. And then feel slightly despondent about the need for said iPad apps in order to get Congress working properly, before moving on again.
Both apps, POPVOX’s MarkUp and High Ground Solutions’ Whipcast, intend to help Congress members keep track of legislation as it moves through the House, minimizing the need for the massive amount of paper used for all the necessary related documents, as well as offer voting alerts and, in MarkUp’s case, offer input from advocacy groups from both sides of the argument for controversial bills. Both apps also call themselves the first app created to help Congress.
Okay, that’s not exactly true; MarkUp is called “the first app designed specifically for Congressional staff and Members,” whereas Whipcast is “the first government app to be launched simultaneously across all major platforms – iPad, iPhone, Blackberry and Android,” according to House Majority Whip, Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who actually created the app. (As you might expect, the announcement of Rep. McCarthy’s app has a hilariously partisan spin: “While in the minority, we saw how the Democrat Majority obscured their actions from the public…” starts the press release.)
Both apps are available now; somewhere, Congressional process wonks are eagerly hitting the app store and canceling plans for the weekend.
Graeme McMillan is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @Graemem or on Facebook at Facebook/Graeme.McMillan. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.