SITETEXT.HTM Essay Contest


Congressional Oversight of DC:

AN OPPORTUNITY FOR COLLEGE STUDENTS in the regional Consortium of Universities in the Washington Metropolitan Area to understand and shape--the unique political relationship between Congress and the nation's capital city, and consider how it might be modernized to reflect US urban growth.


The purpose of the essay contest was stimulate creative but realistic thinking about how Congress can execute its responsibilities while allowing District citizens to gain greater self-government, democratic equality, and greater influence in our metro area. NARPAC believes Congress should reorganize its oversight to focus less on "micromanaging" DC's day-to-day governance and more on emerging needs for metropolitan area cooperation.


The US Constitution obliges Congress to exercise "exclusive jurisdiction" over the stateless area set aside for the nation's capital. Different approaches have been used over the past 200 years, and its oversight now involves subcommittees of four Congressional committees. The DC government has also evolved over time, and is now emerging from a Congressionally imposed Control Board. And US cities have evolved from small towns to huge, sprawling, complex metropolitan areas containing 85% of all Americans. Many of DC's current problems and possible solutions are treated on NARPAC's extensive web site at and the many other sites it links to.


What exactly must Congress "oversee"? What different mechanisms are available to do this? How can Congress substitute for state-level governance? How can it avoid state conflicts of interest, and individual member "grandstanding"? Is there a suitable role for Congress in redressing metro area imbalances? Should Congress try to reconcile DC's stateless status vis-a'-vis its suburbs?


A possible sign of the times: to NARPAC's surprise and disappointment, neither the students nor their academic advisors found the topic worthy of their efforts at this time.


Press Release


National Association Announces Winners of Regional High School Essay Contest

To: Assignment and National Desks
Contact: Dr. Job Dittberner of:
the National Association to Restore Pride in America's Capital, 202-966-3598 (evenings);
e-mail: web site:;

The National Association to Restore Pride in America's Capital today announced the winners of an essay contest for regional high school students on the subject of "Washington DC in 2010".

Essays were invited from all public school systems, private and parochial schools in the "inner metro area". Submittals were due on January 31st and subsequently evaluated by four judges. Details of the ground rules may be found on NARPAC's web site at The prize winning essays are posted there too.

First Prize of $1000 is awarded to Gaurav Gupta, of McLean, Virginia;

Runner-Up Prize of $500 is awarded to Brian C. McDonald, of Fairfax, Virginia

The purpose of the competition was to stimulate young people--and their parents--to think about the kind of city, metropolitan hub, and national capital the District of Columbia can and should become in the coming decade. The responses were all very thoughtful.

Both students are freshmen at the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, a Fairfax County Public School in Alexandria, Virginia. An award ceremony will be held on May 10th for the students, their immediate families, and involved school officials. The ceremony will be on Capitol Hill in the offices of Virginia Congressman Tom Davis, Chair of the DC Subcommittee of the House Committee on Government Reform.

NARPAC, Inc. congratulates the winners and thanks all who participated in the contest.


The two essays reproduced below were the unanimous choice of NARPAC's four judges as the best and most responsive of those received. All of the entries were well prepared, and all deserve congratulations for their effort and thought. While the views and suggestions contained here are solely those of the authors, NARPAC finds them of interest and positive contributions to the debate of the future of the nation's capital city.

First Prize Essay :


by Gaurav Gupta

The status and power of Washington, D.C. today are incongruous with the shocking living conditions and pressing social issues which city management has grappled with over the past decades. The highly visible effects of corruption, drug dealing, rampant homicides, poor housing, a faltering education system, dilapidated schools and hospitals, dangerous streets and neighborhoods, and unreliable public transportation have marred the city's image in international eyes, preventing it from attaining the status it truly deserves. Although the city provides myriad social, cultural and financial growth venues, they are of no use in alleviating the stresses caused by these frequently unchecked deficiencies.

One critical step in dealing with these issues is stimulating the regional economy while making sure that Washington DC stands out as an urban center. The financial success of the region is heavily dependent on the stability and prosperity of the District. Without the city of Washington DC as a major contributor to the region's economy, our area businesses will lose the ability to expand and compete in the global marketplace. Dr. Stephen Fuller of George Mason University's Public Policy Institute noted that for every dollar of increased economic activity in Washington DC, the suburbs average $1.50. This is a clear indicator that the financial situation in the suburbs relies upon the success of the DC economy.

The surest way to revitalize DC financial situation is to promote high rates of economic growth. The first step in this process involve federal legislation that restructures the District's government and local responsibilities, and molds it into a more independent and less bureaucratic form. This government can then make some basic changes that set up a financial framework which is more receptive to businesses and investors than the current system. Already, DC is offering a unique $5,000 credit against a person's federal return when they buy a home in the district and work within its boundaries as well. Form 8859 provides an incentive for many commuters who reside in the suburbs to move into the district, spurring the growth of local businesses as well as enhancing the real estate market. Washington DC is the only city in the nation which offers this credit. In addition, the District now allows residents to pay their taxes with credit cards, which insures a better chance of getting revenue into the District. DC policeman and fireman receive a $2,000 credit on their DC returns, which will help alleviate problems in law enforcement caused by lack of recruits.

According to the New York Times article "Information Superhighway is Just Outside the Beltway" of October 12, 1999, Washington DC is "the technological capital of the US." Similarly, The Washington Post reported that the DC metropolitan area was the most wired region in the country in their article "D.C. Region Leads Nation in Net Access." Already DC is emerging as not only a national, but also an international leader and model. When Newsweek looked at the major technology hotbeds of the world, they profiled the Washington metropolitan area in their "Where Wired Is a Way of Life" special. The District can maintain this pattern by continuing to attract research and information technology companies. This goal, in turn, can be easily achieved by providing such corporations with a stable work force of educated and trained personnel. Many cities will try to attract these companies, but will lack these vital aspect personnel.

Last year, DC universities awarded 1,745 degrees in technology-oriented fields, a very important statistic for companies who often have to compete globally for programmers, scientists, and researchers. I think that DC government should recognize this great resource and then contribute to it by training human resource professionals to recruit and attract high-tech laborers into the Washington DC area. Local government should also take steps to create a coalition of local businesses with the purpose of encouraging bright and promising young high school students to go into the technology industry. Additional tax breaks for research and high technology companies and their employees will be required if Washington DC is to remain the dynamo behind the region's economy.

Having headquarters in Washington DC has many advantages for companies involved in foreign markets. Nearly every country in the world maintains an embassy and/or trade office within the District, and large international institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Organization are headquartered there. Many local colleges and universities also boast renowned schools of foreign trade and foreign policy. In order to remain the primary home of these corporations, it is my belief that the government of DC should develop mechanisms for locally based businesses to partner and trade with foreign corporations, as well as offer tax incentives for companies involved in international markets. These companies are vital components of future major cities, as these large corporations are going to be the catalysts for explosive growth as technological hotbeds. As they continue to grow economically and socially, these local businesses and business leaders will give back to the community, elevating and enhancing the city in both tangible and indirect ways.

As a national capital, DC will come to symbolize the American government as a shining beacon of democracy. Soon the last traces of communism in the world will be dying out, and the United States will remain as the only true superpower. The residents of DC will lead the nation, and thus the world, into the 21st century. We will be called upon to assist underdeveloped and developing nations with debt relief and other measures, and to become involved in the small ethnic wars that will begin to appear in all corners of the world. It will be our responsibility to take action when appropriate, and to know when not to interfere. As the world becomes more tolerant, Washington, D.C. will become a worldwide center for cultural and religious diversity, as well as a universal symbol of righteousness and freedom. Increasingly, people will be judged by whom they are, not by race or gender. This is easy to see in many schools today, where the children form a diverse mosaic of cultures and backgrounds. In this environment, tolerance is taught alongside math, the sciences, and the arts. Already, DC has a black mayor, and it is highly possible that soon DC will be the home of female and minority presidents.

I believe that Congress can assist in restoring pride in the nation's capital simply by passing legislation giving DC government more power and greater responsibilities. A local government, in touch with the people and accountable to the populace through the mayor, can have a greater and more immediate effect on the state of the District. Instead of passing sweeping legislation, the DC government can target specific problems and deal with them energetically and effectively. I believe that working with the support of DC residents, local government can directly take part in multiple projects with the ultimate goal of making the city a better place to live. The government should initiate focused, targeted projects which encourage high rates of economic growth, revitalize neighborhoods, beautify the city, restructure basic government health services and programs, provide money for educational materials as well as repair and maintenance of schools, and patch up large and dangerous potholes. Together with the citizens of the District, they will all cumulatively work to restore pride in the national's capital. Continued local economic development will be the key, as well as increased government spending on health, education, and employment programs. This will not only alleviate poverty and crime, but will also spur the growth and diversification of local businesses.

Being the seat of government for the most powerful nation in the world, DC will attain the status which Rome and London once shared. People will flock to our nation's capital to see the government in action. In this respect, we will serve as a model for not only American cities, but also the other cities of the globe. The miracle of democracy has made Washington DC the center of the free world. As Gore Vidal said of Washington in 1967, "There were elegant tree-lined avenues, broken by circles designed to keep the dreaded mob at bay with cannon, the work of men who could not foresee to what extent the mob would govern not in the streets with musketry but in the Capitol itself." By combining pure technological and military might with creativity and an ever burning passion for freedom, America will continue to grow strong, and will continue to honor its capital and its people.

Runner-Up Essay:


by Brian C. McDonald

Washington, D.C. functions in three important roles. In the first role, it is the national capital. The District's second role is acting as the regional center for the metropolitan area. The last function Washington serves is as a model U.S. city. But D.C. has a long way to go before it is able to realize its potential in these roles. Many changes will have to be implemented.

One major step towards Washington becoming a shining example of a national capital is for it to gain representation in our federal government. It can do this in one of two ways. The first method would be for Washington to be part of Maryland as supported by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Very little support was giving to this suggestion by the citizens of Washington, D.C. The second and more efficient method would be for the District to become a state. Congress should move forward to vote and pass upon the state Constitution that was drawn up in January 1982 and approved by the voters later that year in November. In this way the District of Columbia would become a state and have the ability to elect its own representatives in both the U.S. House and Senate. Through this action, D.C., as the seat of the national government, would achieve an essential element for embodying the principles on which this nation was founded.

There are two methods Washington should put in place in order to become a successful regional center. One is to utilize the seventeen universities and colleges spread out across the District as agents in developing, upgrading, and creating a sense of community within the District's numerous neighborhoods. Promoting the arts by hosting local concerts and theatrical plays weekly or monthly is one possible means of accomplishing this goal. The concerts could feature local musicians. Plays could be performed by local theatrical groups or local high schools. These are two great ways to incorporate children and teens into the fine arts.

The colleges and universities should also engage in educational activities that promote the understanding of the vivid history and assets of Washington apart from the federal government. One way this can be accomplished is to have guest speakers give seminars on this subject. Another would be to encourage libraries to devote resources to Washington's history. Universities could also help research and identify historic sites and monuments within the District which are apart from the federal enclave. These are just a few ways that colleges and universities can help the District develop its identity and potential as a hub and regional center.

For the District to attract residents back and become a thriving regional core, it must improve its transit system so it is easy to get from one place to another. One major drawback of the Metro system is that it is too expensive. In New York, a single day pass for riding unlimited rides on the buses and the subway is four dollars. In Washington, an unlimited ride pass for a single day for buses is $2.50 and a single day subway pass is five dollars which is a grand total of $7.50. So over a month, the District's price for transportation seems totally unreasonable and overpriced. The New York price for a monthly price of unlimited rides is $63 while Washington's cheapest price for unlimited rides in a month is $120. That's nearly twice as much. If the Metro system plans to attract more riders on a daily basis, it must lower its prices, maybe not as low as New York's, but not far off.

Another hindrance to the transit system is that the pricing structure is too complicated. One cause of this is that there are so many different passes. There are thirteen passes in all but only two of them are interchangeable between both the buses and the subway. Rather than have many passes for each individual type of transportation, the Metro needs to just have fares for the subway and buses together. Basing the cost of a ride on distance also contributes to the problem of the system being too complicated. Therefore, the Metro should go to a flat rate plan instead. There are a couple of reasons why the Metro is inefficient at the present moment.

If more riders were to ride the transit system, then it would be easier to create partnership between the Metro and businesses. One of the values of the metro is to promote partnership. The mission of the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority includes this: "Partnering is working together for the success of the organization and the beneficial growth of the region and its transportation network. We will be leaders in developing both internal and external working relationships to achieve common goals. We are committed by our vision and action to see that transit plays an important role in contributing to the overall quality of life throughout the region;." Partnership with businesses would enable the Metro system to lower its prices. It would also spur business throughout the District since bus routes could link these businesses up with the Metrorail. All in all, if Washington plans on being a regional center, the transit system must address the concerns of price, simplicity, and partnership.

In ten years, Washington should be a model U.S. city in its effort against crime. Currently it is a disgrace. Of all the law enforcement officers in the metropolitan area, 40% of them belong to the District. This accounts for ten billion dollars in the area of safety and justice over a ten year period from 1987-1996. Taking into account that D.C. spent $39.4 billion over these ten years, Washington ended up paying roughly 25% of its budget on crime. There are many ways to deal with this problem, though.

One way is to develop volunteer programs to supplement law enforcement efforts. Some advantages to this is that tax dollars could be spent in other areas other than crime. Another advantage is that giving some law enforcement duties to volunteers is a more efficient way to manage police work. But the most important element of all is that these programs bring citizens together to work for their own community. Some of the responsibilities volunteers could hold would be crime analyst, proofing lab reports, and residential and commercial security. Therefore, many regular police officers could be moved to more efficient jobs on the street.

In conclusion, Washington;, D.C. needs to improve its image in its three major roles. In order for the District to become a better symbol of our nation it must earn the right to vote in our federal government. To become an improved regional center D.C. must utilize its colleges, universities, and Metro system. Lastly, for Washington to become a model U.S. city, it must become a leader in fighting crime with efficient methods. All in all, if D.C. can accomplish all these points, then it will definitely become a city all Americans can be proud of.

(Bibliographies and references omitted for brevity)

Competition Ground Rules

Announcement to Educators:

We invite your students to participate in an essay contest on the theme "Washington, DC in 2010", sponsored by the National Association to Restore Pride in America's Capital (NARPAC), a private, non-political, non-profit organization.

The purpose is to stimulate young people--and their parents--to think about the kind of city, metropolitan hub, and national capital the District of Columbia can and should become in the coming decade.

We believe the best method of restoring pride and shaping the future is providing facts, information, and creative ideas to citizens, organizations, and local, regional and national politicians. We are doing that through the NARPAC web site. We invite you and your students to examine this rich source of information and ideas at, which includes hotlinks to related sites and sources of information.

The essay contest is NARPAC's way of expanding to the next generation the circles of the interested and active. If this first effort is fruitful, we hope to make it an annual event. We trust the awards are attractive enough to stimulate student participation.

We would appreciate your help and that of your teachers in alerting your students to the contest and stirring their intererst.

Thank you for your assistance. We will be honored by the participation of your students and look forward to their entries.

Participating Districts

The following school districts in the Washington Metro Area were encouraged to participate:

  • Alexandria
  • Arlington County
  • District of Columbia
  • Fairfax County
  • Prince George's County
  • Private/Parochial Schools in the inner metro area

Announcement to Students:



An Opportunity for High Schoolers in the region to describe the city they want to see Washington, DC become -- as national capital, metropolitan hub, and model American city -- over the next decade.

Top Prize: $1000 and a framed award certificate

Runner-Up Prize: $500 and a framed award certificate

Deadline: January 31 in the Year 2000

Winning essays will be included on the NARPAC web site, and their names and the names of their schools will be announced in a national press release. Local newspapers and media in the communities of the winners will be informed of their success. An award ceremony with metro area leaders is planned.


The purpose of the essay contest is to stimulate creative thinking, based on realistic possibilities, about how the District of Columbia might grow more prosperous and more democratic for everyone. NARPAC leans towards making it a proud symbol of democracy in action through better cooperation among national, regional, and local governments, leading to a prosperous region with opportunities for all. But you may have different ideas and we'd like to hear them. Echoing NARPAC's web site is not the way to win!


The recent fortunes of Washington, D.C., have risen and fallen with the size and focus of the federal government it hosts, and the quality of city political management. DC is now in transition -- and still failing to prosper at the level of its sprawling suburbs. Its government has little interaction with neighboring county and state governments, and the city is still under the thumb of -- but lacking full voice in -- the US Congress. It shares many of the socio-economic statistics of the nation's worst inner cities. Its current problems and potential solutions are treated on NARPAC's extensive web site at and the many other sites it links to.

What should Americans strive to make of their capital city by the end of the first decade of the 21st Century? Should the city coax certain kinds of people to live here by offering special tax breaks and the like? Does Washington DC have a special role to play in the burgeoning Greater Washington metro area? How can it -- and should it -- better reflect our nation's goals and ambitions? What is a suitable role for Congress in restoring pride in America's capital?

Essay Guidelines

The essay must address the three components of the theme: the District of Columbia as the national capital; as regional center; and as model US city. It must be written in English and no longer than 1500 words. Participants should include references, footnotes and bibliography (not part of the word count) and number all pages. The essay should be typed on one side of 8-1/2 by 11 inch white paper. The participant's name and the name of the school should not appear on any of the pages of the essay, but only on the accompanying registration form.

Registration Form And Submission

Participants should complete the essay contest registration form with name, home address, phone number, and the name and address of the school. Both participant and teacher/sponsor should sign this form. NARPAC will let you know your entry was received.

Two (2) copies of the essay covered by the registration form should be mailed to:
Dr. Job Dittberner
2 Wisconsin Circle, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20815

The entry must be postmarked no later than January 31st, 2000
Questions may be e-mailed to

This page was updated on Mar 5, 2002

homeissuesstatusanalyses email



© copyright 2007 NARPAC, Inc. All rights reserved