Since the site reports information from ordinary folks who receive "stimulus money," you can hardly expect them to know their congressman.
I once stood on the busiest corner of downtown Minneapolis during lunch hour while KTCA reporter Eric Eskola showed a picture of congressman Marty Sabo to passersby saying "Do you know who this man is?" I watched about 15 minutes of "uh, uh, no!" before anyone even came close.
But part of the job of programmers creating a website is to make sure that things like invalid congressional districts don't get past basic input edits! Try changing one digit in your credit card number the next time you input it on Amazon.com and see what happens!
A Congressional District input should be a wonderful learning tool. "Back in the day," we would have assigned a rookie programmer to handle this part of the coding on a project. "These two columns on the card contain the Congressional District," would have been stated to the rookie. "Make sure its valid."
With any luck at all, the rookie in question was a newly hired MBA from finance who had been sent down to the department to spend a few months "learning about computers". He'd been to programming school. Now the fun would start. Would he find a good source for his information? Would he only check to see if the input was numeric and less than some maximum? Would he allow "00"? Would he find the programming standard for tables? Would he document the table in understandable fashion? And the big one!"
So what are you going to do when the districts change after next year's census? ...Well, who do you think is going to make that change?Eventually, everything would be fine and our MBA would go back to his "real" job upstairs. But years later when there was a major issue to work out in a possible acquisition or major restructuring and our MBA was now the CFO, he's the one who would say:
Let's get somebody from IT involved. Those guys have way of thinking through all the details and ramifications of stuff. We could really use that on this task force.And that's the way it was.
And spending 18 million dollars to rework a website? We'll leave that for another post. But a lot of old MIS types are turning over in their graves.