For almost 200 years, teenagers have made the trek to Washington D.C. to help the government in its gargantuan task of managing our nation. These pages have handled messages and ferried documents from representative to representative since the 20th Congress.
Now, thanks to the widespread use of BlackBerries and other smartphones, the Page program is shutting down in the House of Representatives. The Page program will continue in the Senate, but no longer will High school Juniors venture to D.C. to learn about the workings of our government in the Page program.
The same technology which made Pages obsolete, could also help revive a new telework Page program at a lower cost and higher impact.
The end of the House Page program comes after outside consultants identified the cost of the program at $5 million, or $80,000 per Page. This cost is much more than it would cost to send the students to a year of college.
No doubt the debt crisis has played a role in the Page program cancellation, but the bigger issue is the adoption of email and smartphones. No longer do Representatives need teenagers to run through the halls of the House searching for their Rep. Important documents are sent directly to the Representatives via email.
There is disappointment among some members of the House of Representatives, because the Page program introduces students to the inner workings of the U.S. government, and many current government leaders are Page alumni.
While it is sad to see a program that educated youth about politics go by the wayside, it is certainly understandable that a $5 million dollar cut was made this week.
Rather than hang on to an outdated position, which took the students from their homes to Washington, and has been hit with scandals, the House could use the same technology that made Pages obsolete to craft a new program aimed at leveraging the skills of our nations youth while they study at home.
Provide the next group of at home pages with government issue Blackberries and a secure video connection to their representative and task them with the same work they used to complete in an Office in D.C. With so many tasks happening on the smartphone and computer, it’s a natural progression.
Remote workers are already saving U.S. companies thousands of dollars per employee. The estimated impact of eligible employees working at home just part-time at $650 billion a year in savings and productivity gains.
By switching to a telework Page program, the House of Representatives could help prepare a group of youth for telework and leadership roles in the government and the private sector. This program could also help establish a list of best practices to help other companies provide invaluable training and experience to students who are not located near major commercial sectors.