Four House Republicans have formed the Republican New Media Caucus.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Four Republicans behind the House Republican New Media Caucus (@GOPNMC on Twitter) are aiming to set a technological example for their colleagues.
"It's like that old saying 'you can't teach an old dog new tricks,'" Ohio Republican Rep. Bob Latta told CNN, "Well, yeah, you can."
Latta (@boblatta on Twitter) along with fellow Republicans Rep. John Culberson of Texas (@johnculberson), Rep. Buck McKeon (@BuckMcKeon) of California, and Rep. Rob Wittman (@RobWittman) of Virginia are the co-chairs of the House GOP New Media Caucus.
Roughly 60 House Republicans have joined the caucus, according to Latta's office. The group plans to sponsor staff briefings every four to eight weeks where Republican staffers will have the opportunity to meet with representatives of technology companies like YouTube, Apple, and BlackBerry maker Research in Motion.
The caucus, which recently launched a Web site, is scouting social media services and other new technologies that might be of use to the rest of House Republican Conference in keeping in touch with the public.
Constituents "want to be kept up to date from us right now," Latta said, "They don't want to have to wait half a day, or a day, or two days later to actually get the communication," from a congressional office. So, the group is trying to identify "best practices" on social media services like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Qik, and UStream.
The four men are also using the technologies themselves, an effort to set an example for colleagues who may be reticent to try out social media.
The caucus is also functioning as a space for its members to have discussions and share ideas about technology policy. Latta, Culberson, and Wittman met last week in Silicon Valley with reps from several large technology companies including Facebook, Apple, UStream, Google, Yahoo, and Oracle, according to Latta. The meetings involved discussions of tax law issues, patent and other intellectual property issues, and immigration policy.
And the group is also keeping an eye on possible regulation of use of social media by the Franking Commission, the House body that has traditionally regulated how members of Congress communicate with the public.
"I think we need to go before them and say, 'Here's the technology that we're dealing with today, here's what our constituents are using, here's what the business world's using, and here we are not being able to utilize it," Latta said.
A spokesman for the Franking Commission told CNN the body had no immediate plans to consider new regulations governing members' use of social media services.
"We continue to review and encourage the use of new communications technologies that assist Members in reaching and providing important information to their constituents," Kyle Anderson, press director for the House Committee on Administration, wrote in an e-mail to CNN.
In addition to keeping tabs on any new regulations, Latta's office says the caucus is also working with the Franking Commission to obtain approval for members to place paid Web advertisements in Google search results and working with House leadership to obtain official certification for Apple's iPhone, so that Members and staffers can get their secure, official e-mail on the device.(BlackBerry, an iPhone competitor, is already certified for congressional use.)
"Technology is changing, the world's changing as to how people communicate," said Latta - people "don't want their government to be living in the Stone Age."