Beginning later this year, a member of Congress will be able to field a call from a constituent while simultaneously viewing on a computer screen the caller's political profile--based on past correspondence to the lawmaker.
It's the latest step in bringing computer technology to Capitol Hill by a Silver Spring computer time-sharing company, Dailcom, which sells 230 congressional offices its computerized method of handling mail.
About seven years ago Dialcom began working with Rep. David Emery (R-Maine), a former electronics engineer, to develop software that would allow a congressional staff to answer and file letters more quickly. Now, two- thirds of the House members pay Dialcom $1,000 a month for access to a system that allows staffers to compose letters by drawing from a bank of pre- written paragraphs relating to most political subjects in which their bosses have an interest.
The next step: computer terminals on every desk that would permit a staffer to type in a constituent's name and see a history of the constituent's correspondence. Which means a member of Congress about to talk with Joe Voter could instantly know Mr. Voter's pet peeves and prejudices.
The nice thing about computers is that they know no party lines.
"If the public votes them in," says Dialcom's executive vice president, Chris Brown, "we'll take their money."