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Congress Coming Around Online

The 610 congressional websites have gone from pretty crappy to pretty good in just one year, according to the Congress Online Project:

    More specifically, the study determined that 50% of congressional office Web sites received a grade of A or B, compared to only 10% of the sites in 2002 – a five-fold increase in A and B sites. However, the percentage of very poor Web sites, receiving grades of D or F, declined only marginally from 32% in 2002 to 25% in 2003.

    “These new and improved sites are already yielding far-ranging benefits for millions of citizens. Access to legislative information is no longer the exclusive domain of lobbyists and activists who are physically present on Capitol Hill or can afford to pay for services that monitor the legislative process,” the report stated.

    The study, written by the Congressional Management Foundation as part of the Congress Online Project, evaluated 610 Web sites in Congress — all Member office, committee and leadership sites — to determine which sites were the best and to assess how well Congress was using the Internet to communicate with the public. This research is the second annual report to combine a comprehensive analysis and grading of all congressional Web sites.

    ….The 2003 report, Congress Online 2003: Turning the Corner of the Information Age, also highlighted some new research and findings not previously reported. In the House, for example, there is a clear decline in the quality of Web sites as tenure and age of the Member increase. Freshman Members in the 107th Congress received an average GPA of 2.49, compared to 1.94 for Members who have served six terms or more. Similarly Members under age 45 had Web sites that received a GPA of 2.47, compared to 1.95 for Members over age 60.

    In addition, there is no correlation between the performance of congressional Web sites and state demographics usually assumed to contribute to Internet sophistication. The top 20 state delegations included both sparsely populated rural states, such as North Dakota and Vermont, and large, populous states, such as California and Pennsylvania. It also includes states not typically considered “wired,” such as New Mexico and Arkansas, as well as highly wired states, such as Oregon and Maryland.

    The Web sites were graded using the five essential criteria: audience, content, interactivity, usability, and innovations. The best Web sites included such features as: extensive issue sections on legislation pending before Congress; well-organized background on the Member’s position on key issues and voting records; online assistance with constituent services, such as setting up tours in Washington, or requesting aid from federal agencies; and interactive elements, such as online polls, e-newsletters, or online chats with the Member.

Gold mouse Award winners are:

    Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) (http://carper.senate.gov)
    Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) (http://leahy.senate.gov)
    Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) (http://reid.senate.gov)

    Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) (http://www.house.gov/blumenauer)
    Rep. John Boozman (R-AR) (http://www.house.gov/boozman)
    Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA) (http://www.house.gov/fattah)
    Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX) (http://kaygranger.house.gov)
    Rep. Melissa Hart (R-PA) (http://hart.house.gov)
    Rep. John Larson (D-MA) (http://www.house.gov/larson)
    Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA) (http://www.house.gov/pombo)
    Rep. George Radanovich (R-CA) (http://www.radanovich.house.gov)
    Rep. Christopher Shays (R-CT) (http://www.house.gov/shays)
    Rep. Nick Smith (R-MI) (http://www.house.gov/nicksmith)

    House Committee on Energy and Commerce – majority (http://energycommerce.house.gov)
    House Committee on Government Reform – minority (http://reform.house.gov/min)

    House Republican Conference (http://www.GOP.gov)

My Ohio lawmakers fail miserably: not one in the Gold, Silver, or Bronze Mouse Awards.

About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014. Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: [email protected], Facebook.com/amhaunted, Pinterest America's Most Haunted. Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.

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