It is a fight, to borrow a favorite phrase of Barack Obama, that the RNC is willing to have. The fight is for control of the digital world with an eye toward matching and some day (it is hoped) surpassing the Democrats in targeting voters electronically.
The name of the new apparatus, fittingly, is Para Bellum, Latin for “Prepare for war.” From an RNC press release:
Today, the Republican National Committee is announcing the creation of Para Bellum Labs, an initiative to describe the work and startup culture of the new Digital and Data Department. Para Bellum Labs will help create a culture to allow the RNC to innovate faster and recruit more talented people who can build digital platforms to understand public opinion, engage voters and power elections. The effort is being led by Deputy Chief of Staff and Chief Digital Officer Chuck DeFeo and Chief Data Officer Azarias Reda.
Para Bellum will allow the RNC to continue building a new tech-centered mindset, while increasing visibility and credibility in the tech community to attract top talent who want to solve big tech problems. Para Bellum will participate in the technical and open source community, starting with a 5-campus tour at top engineering schools and hosting a political hackathon in the future.
“The RNC has a role to lead on data and digital for the good of the Party from the top of the ticket down,” said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus. “Through Para Bellum Labs we will continue bringing in top talent to inspire innovative products to power campaigns and change the way we do business in the Republican Party.”
“Para Bellum Labs is something that has never been done before – top talent to power elections for the good of the entire Republican Party,” said Chief Digital Officer Chuck DeFeo. “By setting clear goals and hiring talented people, I am confident we will keep propelling our Party forward to win elections in 2014, 2016 and beyond.”
“We will fully participate in the open source community and earn the respect of the people we need to hire,” said Chief Data Officer Azarias Reda. “When it comes to recruiting top talent, our competition isn’t the Democratic Party—it’s the Facebooks, LinkedIns, and Googles of the world. We’re pushing the envelope by building products to win elections while creating a young and engaged image for the Republican Party.”
The timing of launch, which comes on the heels of fresh reports of new IT nightmares for Healthcare.gov, could not be better.