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Indian-American proposes Silicon Valley approach to governing

Washington, Oct 18 (IANS) In the aftermath of the US government shutdown, a former Indian-American Obama administration official has proposed “bold” reforms to make government more efficient, transparent and responsive with a Silicon Valley approach to governing.

“We need bold government reform right away,” declared Rohit ‘Ro’ Khanna, a lawyer and former commerce department official, who is making a bid to oust fellow Democrat Mike Honda, seven-term incumbent House member from California’s 17th District.

“I am pushing a reform agenda against special interests to hopefully change Congress,” he said addressing a gathering in his constituency which is home to a range of technology companies, a day after the US government reopened after a 16-day standoff between Democrats and Republicans over budget and raising the US debt limit.

“Relieved that the shutdown is over after 16 long days,” he tweeted. “Let’s hope Congress never repeats this again,” he said proposing what he called “five steps” to change Congress.

The steps included refusing donations from political action committees (PACs) and federally registered lobbyists, refusing Congressional pay raises, end of Congressional pension system, banning legislators from lobbying for five years after leaving office and taking special interest-funded trips.

“These proposals will help turn our members of Congress back into the representatives of the people that they’re supposed to be,” Khanna said.

“As a son of immigrants, I would certainly fight for immigration reform,” said Khanna.

President Barack Obama has made fixing the “broken” immigration system a key priority of his administration this year.

To make the government more efficient and transparent, Khanna suggested “a Silicon Valley approach to governing – leveraging innovative technology wherever possible”.

The proposals encompassed: Post government spending online; Make government data machine-readable; Consolidate duplicative federal agencies and programmes, Cut government energy expenses and Improve cyber security.

Khanna has received the endorsements of several high-profile Silicon Valley figures, such as Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer in his bid to oust Honda.

The two face off in a Democratic party primary in June 2014 before the November 2014 election.

Khanna also again outraised Honda in the third quarter with $504,450 against Honda’s $385,000. He finished the quarter with $1.9 million on hand, according to his campaign.

Khanna had made a $1 million-plus haul last quarter, which he ended with $1.7 million in the bank.

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