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With an estimated 87% of American adults online, Members of Congress should have good websites that effectively communicate with and serve citizens. The Gold Mouse Awards Project seeks to improve the online communications of Congress by identifying best and innovative practices that can be more widely adopted by House & Senate offices.


Winners of the 113th Congress Gold Mouse Awards


On April 28, 2014, CMF announced the winners of the Gold Mouse Awards for the 113th Congress. Seventy websites received recognition, as well as 17 specific social media practices.

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Award-Winning Characteristic #5: Promoting Accountability to Constituents

In our continuing series about Gold Mouse criteria, this week's topic is about using your website to communicate the Member's work in Congress. A fundamental tenet of representative democracy is that elected officials should be accountable to their constituents, and your website provides an easy-access point for the average citizen.

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Award-Winning Characteristic #4: Constituent Services and Casework

In our continuing series about Gold Mouse criteria, this week's topic is about meeting the needs of your constituents online. Every Member office website should answer constituent questions about how the office can assist them with specific federal agency issues. In addition, your website should include information on all of the basic services that congressional offices provide, such as internships, flag requests, and tours. Fortunately, most of the drafting of this content need only be done once, and does not require significant updating unless policies change.

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Award-Winning Characteristic #3: Usability

In the 3rd part of our 10-part series on building an award-winning congressional website, we cover the ease of using your website as an average user. A good website interface should allow visitors to move quickly and smoothly through the website's various pages utilizing well-designed navigation tools and menu options. While it may seem trivial or obvious, a poor interface can greatly frustrate your constituents and prevent them from finding the information or assistance they seek.

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Award-Winning Characteristic #2: Timeliness

In the 2nd part of our 10-part series on building an award-winning congressional website, we cover the importance of keeping the information on your site up-to-date with items like new press releases and recent floor speeches.

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Gold Mouse Awards Announcement: New Timeframe for Evaluations

In past years, CMF has typically kicked off the Gold Mouse Awards project in June. However, we're doing things a little differently this year—both in terms of our evaluation process and our timeframe. Over the coming weeks, we'll give you more details about how we're changing the awards, but for now, we wanted to let congressional staff (and vendors) know that the website evaluations won't begin until Labor Day. That means you have more time—including August recess—to improve your site.

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Senate Budget Committee Listening to the Public

New Senate Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray recently announced the launch of “MyBudget,” the committee’s new online effort to encourage members of the public to participate in the federal budget process. This new online tool allows the public to share their stories, budget priorities, and ideas with the committee as it writes a budget.

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Highlighting Online Innovations in the House

As we mentioned last week, our Gold Mouse Award researchers have their jobs cut out for them, reviewing 92 criteria for each of the 538 Member office sites (there were three vacant seats). (Review our detailed methodology here in PDF.) Needless to say, it stands out when an office is doing something online that others are not. That’s why we wanted to highlight these features – they may not seem innovative by some standards, but their novelty on the Hill is worth sharing in the hope that other offices get creative and inspired in their own communications with constituents.

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Adding Value Through Innovation…by Hill Standards

Last summer, as CMF combed through 618 congressional websites to identify the Gold Mouse Award winners, our researchers kept an eye out for innovative features that we weren’t seeing on other congressional sites, or features that were being done particularly well. They don’t guarantee you an award – you must have the underlying content and timeliness we look for – but they certainly don’t hurt.

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112th Congress Gold Mouse Award Winners

Shown at the CMF Gold Mouse Awards ceremony on November 16, this video highlights some of our award-winning Members of Congress and staff for the 112th Congress. In it, they discuss why it’s important to communicate with constituents online.

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