Langevin Noted for One of the Best Websites in Congress
Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) has been honored with a 112th Congress Gold Mouse Award for having created one of the best websites on Capitol Hill. Presented by the Congressional Management Foundation (CMF), the award is presented to Representatives and Senators based on an evaluation of 92 criteria, covering 10 categories:
- Usability of website;
- Timeliness of content;
- Breadth and depth of information on issues;
- Constituent services and casework information;
- Promoting accountability to constituents;
- Legislative process information;
- District/state information;
- Floor proceedings information;
- Availability of diverse forms of content; and
- Availability of diverse forms of content channels.
CMF reviewers also included social media components in the criteria. Only 15 House members and six senators received either a Platinum or Gold ranking, which are the contest’s top honors.
“I want to take advantage of every possible way to interact with the people I represent and having a user-friendly website is an important part of that,” said Langevin. “It offers an invaluable way to provide continuous updates to constituents, share my positions, offer easy access to me through email, and provide information that helps them solve problems. I am proud that my office has been recognized for our efforts to be accessible in this way.”
“Rep. Langevin is to be commended for educating citizens and achieving the highest degree of transparency and accountability in online communications,” said Bradford Fitch, President and CEO of CMF. “In the 21st Century, a website is much more than a broadcasting tool for a political message - it's a virtual office and a window into our democratic institutions. These winners of the Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze Mouse Awards understand the value of using the Internet to enlighten and serve constituents, and are examples for all congressional offices to follow,” he said.
CMF conducted its analysis from June to September 2011 and yesterday released its latest report, “112th Congress Gold Mouse Report: Best Practices in Online Communications on Capitol Hill.” Download a copy of the report here. The report identified recent trends related to online communications in Congress, including:
- A significant number of House and Senate Member websites lacked basic educational and transparency features including: links to bills sponsored and cosponsored, voting records, and basic information on how a bill becomes a law.
- House Members taking office in January 2011 had significantly better websites than Senators taking office in January 2011, with 61% of new House Members receiving an A or B grade, compared to 31% of new Senators receiving a similar grade. Nearly half (46%) of new Senators received a grade of D or F, compared to 17% of new House Members.
- While there was general parity overall in quality of websites between Democrats and Republican Member websites, the best websites tended to be Democratic Members.
Of the 618 congressional websites graded, a total of 98 personal office, committee and leadership websites earned A’s, and will therefore receive a Platinum, Gold, Silver or Bronze Mouse Award. With the assistance and guidance of faculty from the University of California-Riverside, the Ohio State University, and Northeastern University, CMF staff assessed and graded the websites and gave each a numerical score, which was translated into a grade of A through F.
Founded in 1977, CMF is a 501(c)(3) nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to helping Congress and its members meet the evolving needs and expectations of an engaged and informed 21st century citizenry. Its work focuses on improving congressional operations and enhancing citizen engagement through research, publications, training, and management services. The Gold Mouse Awards and congressional website research is part of CMF's Partnership for a More Perfect Union, dedicated to enriching the relationship between citizens and Congress. The goal of the Partnership is to further meaningful civic engagement through education, re-establishing trust, and providing innovative and pragmatic tools to facilitate purposeful two-way communication between citizens and Congress. The organization has assessed and graded congressional websites and issued these awards since 2001.