Building Trust & Effectiveness in Congress
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Constituent Communications


Interaction, Interconnectedness, and Interoperability: the Success of VYou on Constituent Communications

Whether serious (how will your state fare in the allocation of federal education dollars) or frivolous (is your Member of Congress a Yankees or a Mets fan), constituents are genuinely curious about the views of their elected officials. Unfortunately, the opportunity to pose these questions doesn’t often present itself.

Enter VYou, the online Q&A forum where online participants can conveniently upload questions to celebrities, experts and even their Members of Congress … if that Member has decided to participate, he or she can answer the questions posed by their constituents  in an audio-visual format.

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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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Resources for Managing Personal Safety Concerns

In consultation with experts, as well as district and state directors, CMF also offers the following resources to staff on managing and addressing the safety concerns that exist in congressional offices.

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Communicating with Distressed Constituents

Our friends over at the American Psychological Association recently brought to our attention a publication created by their affiliate, the California Psychological Association, entitled 'A Legislator's Guide: Communicating with Distressed Constituents.' (PDF-418 KB) The document was authored by clinical psychologist Sandra R. Harris, Ph.D. and was originally created and distributed to members of the California State Legislature. The information that it provides, however, translates well to the challenges Members of Congress and congressional staff face at the federal level when assisting constituents with casework requests, taking constituent comments over the phone, or answering constituent letters or emails.

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Effective Constituent Correspondence, Advanced

Program Overview

This course is for staff who currently write and/or manage constituent mail and want to improve their writing and lessen the administrative burden of correspondence. You will: 
  • Learn the various approaches for responding to constituent mail
  • Draft a constituent response based on best practices
  • Learn techniques and tips for improving turnaround time
  • Handle difficult, politically-sensitive, and hostile letters
  • Receive guidance on sounding like your Member  

This program is conducted by the Congressional Management Foundation through a competitive bid contract with the Chief Administrative Officer of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Course Schedule

Writing Effective Constituent Correspondence programs are held monthly. Please visit our Events Calendar for scheduled courses. Note that dates, times, and locations are subject to change.

Registration is required. To register for or view upcoming programs, please visit (internal link only), and select "Staff Development."

More Info

Seating is limited and will fill up quickly. For more information, please visit the House intranet at (internal link only).
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2007 Gold Mouse Report: Lessons from the Best Web Sites on Capitol Hill

A study of all congressional Web sites including the CMF Gold Mouse Award winners.

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Communicating with Congress: Recommendations for Improving the Democratic Dialogue

The culmination of 9 years of research that provides recommendations for all stakeholders and suggests improvements to the structure and processes for managing congressional communications.

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E-Mail Overload in Congress

The obstacles to responding via e-mail, key principles for an effective system, and the steps to automating congressional e-mail.

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