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A Congress.gov Interview with Butch Lazorchak, Project Manager

Today’s interview is with Butch Lazorchak, a project manager (PM) in the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) of the Library of Congress.

Describe your background.

I took a peripatetic route to my current position at the Library of Congress. I worked on the fringes of the music industry for a number of years, owning a record label, booking concerts, working at record stores, etc., then realized that I didn’t want to end up like Jeffrey “Jeff” Albertson (“Comic Book Guy”) on the Simpsons so I enrolled in Library school (record stores are like libraries where everything is for sale). I got interested in digital preservation while at UNC-Chapel Hill, and happened to be graduating right around the time the Library’s National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP) was staffing up. I got the job and worked in NDIIPP at the Library from 2004 until the program wound down in 2010.

At that point, I transferred to OCIO and became the project manager of the Geospatial Hosting Environment (GHE). The GHE is the Library’s enterprise platform of geospatial authoring, discovery, analysis, and publishing tools. The maps that you see on Congress.gov are generated using the tools maintained by the GHE.

I still oversee the GHE work, but in the meantime I picked up other projects in the Library, including the implementation of the first generation of the ServiceNow IT management tools; upgrades to the Business Objects reporting tool in the Financial Services Division; and a series of projects as part of the Congressional Research Service (CRS) modernization.

In March 2021 I was named the project manager on the Congress.gov and Congress.gov Admin Tools projects. I’m currently the pm on those projects as well as the projects to develop the next generation of tools for CRS as part of their ongoing modernization process.

A headshot Butch Lazorchak with the Madison building in the background.

Butch Lazorchak in front of the Madison Building. Photo by Madelyn Rosenberg.

How would you describe your job to other people?

The Congress.gov project manager acts as liaison between different parts of the Library and external contractors to ensure that the work stays on track. There are a number of different constituencies with fingers in the Congress.gov pie:  Congress; CRS, which directly serves Congress; the Library’s Office of the Chief Information Officer, which supplies the technologies (server, network, database, etc.) that underpin the Congress.gov applications; and the contractors who deliver the technology know-how to develop and maintain the application.

Inevitably, issues arise that unsettle this delicate balance, and, as the project manager, I tried to do anything in my power to assist in rebalancing and keeping things directed towards successful outcomes. The Project Management office sits in the Office of the Chief Information Officer, so most often the project managers are called on to bring the business owners and the information technology folks together.

What is your role in the development of Congress.gov?

I spend much of my time in watchful observance so that I can jump in and assist as necessary.  Things always come up where my skills are required so it’s never boring, but I get a front-row seat to observe how well things actually work. There are many dedicated and talented people that have worked, and are working, on Congress.gov to get it to the point where it’s a smooth-running operation with tremendous benefit to Congress and the American people. I’m honored that I get a chance to assist when I can.

What is your favorite feature of Congress.gov?

House Speaker Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill, Jr. purportedly said that “all politics is local.” With that in mind, I appreciate that Congress.gov allows me to track the activity of my representatives in Congress (Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine and Representative Don Beyer) through Congress.gov Notifications and Alerts. I’m also a “map person” so I appreciate the maps on each representative’s page that show the outlines of their congressional district. I’m fascinated by how the districts get drawn.

What is the most interesting fact you’ve learned about the legislative process while working on Congress.gov?

So many things! One example would be the way treaties are processed. While legislation expires at the end of each Congress if not acted upon, treaties remain in the Committee on Foreign Relations at the end of each Congress until the Senate has completed ratification or returned the treaty to the President for further action. They could be there forever! For example, the “Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties” was received from the president (Richard Nixon!) on 11/22/1971. It was last acted upon on 04/30/1974 with “Committee consideration held.” I presume this means that the Committee could pick it up and ratify it any point, but for whatever reason they just don’t want to.

What’s something most of your co-workers do not know about you?

My co-workers may already know this because it’s the only thing I talk about when not talking about work! I’m a music fanatic that owns over 10,000 records and CDs and I do a weekly radio show on Arlington, VA’s community radio station WERA-LP from 8-10pm each Wednesday.

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2 Comments

  1. Jurretta Heckscher
    August 30, 2022 at 11:59 am

    Thanks for all you do, Butch Lazorchak. As a fellow Northern Virginian: where on the dial (as we used to say) or online can we find WERA-LP?

  2. Butch Lazorchak
    September 1, 2022 at 10:31 am

    It’s at 96.7FM and/or wera.fm 🙂

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