Building Trust & Effectiveness in Congress
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A #Townhall for a New Age

When used correctly, online communications can be remarkably effective in fostering increased citizen engagement with politics and policy. Through our own research, we have found that online town hall meetings have the potential to be a powerful tool for strengthening the relationship between Members and their constituents.

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Inside the Hill: Who Handles Online Communications

In the seventh installment of 'Inside the Hill', congressional staff and Congressman Honda discuss how they use and manage online communications.

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How to Win a Congressional Website Award: Solid Issue Information

The Congressional Management Foundation will commence our seventh round of analyzing and grading more than 600 congressional personal, committee, and leadership office websites on June 1. The results will be released in October, with the Gold Mouse Awards Ceremony in November. We recognize that Members of Congress, by their nature, are competitive, which is why we established the Gold Mouse Awards system in 2001. One of the most common questions CMF gets is: 'What is the most important factor for winning a Gold Mouse Award?'

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Inside the Hill: Congressional Staff Read Everything

In the sixth installment of 'Inside the Hill', congressional staff discuss how the Internet has affected the ways congressional offices get their news.

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Inside the Hill: How The Public Is Heard

In the fourth installment of "Inside the Hill", Members of Congress and congressional staff discuss how citizens' voices are heard on Capitol Hill.

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Back to Basics: The Foundations of a Good Website

Members of Congress are always coming up with new and innovative ways to engage citizens online, but no congressional office should neglect their website. After all, in our survey of over 10,000 citizens, we found that the website of the Senator or Representative is the one of the first places they turn for information. So it's essential that congressional websites provide at least a basic level of information and services. With limited time and resources, where should offices focus their efforts? Here are the 4 most critical areas to focus on, the questions to ask yourself as you improve your website, and examples from award winning websites from the 111th Congress:

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Turning Websites into Online Offices

For congressional offices looking to improve their online communications, one of the biggest challenges can be deciding what information to put on your website, or what's most important. We find that it can be helpful to think of the website as another district or state office which serves constituents 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. What services do your physical offices provide to constituents? What questions and concerns do they hear? Let the answers to those questions be your guide.

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Taking Transparency a Step Further

Earlier this week at our House training on congressional websites and the Gold Mouse Report, one of the attendees asked what his office - as an award winning office - could do to improve their website and perhaps get a Gold or even the Platinum Mouse Award next time around. I love that question because it shows that an office is not resting on their laurels happy that they won an award. It's something we get a lot. The best want to be better. Regrettably, we don't always see that same focus and drive in the offices at the bottom of the list.

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Inside the Hill: What Makes an Award Winning Website

In the second installment of "Inside the Hill", congressional staff discuss what it takes to create and maintain an effective and useful website.

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Inside the Hill: Congress and New Media: The World Has Changed

In the first installment of "Inside the Hill", Members of Congress and staff discuss how social media is changing the way Members can communicate with their constituents.

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