Building Trust & Effectiveness in Congress
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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.

If the latest information in the issues section is more than a year old, and the list of the Member's sponsored and cosponsored legislation is from the previous Congress, it can significantly impact the credibility of the entire website in the eyes of the user.

The content of the entire website need not be rewritten every few months to accomplish this. For example, it can be as simple as adding the latest press release or floor statement on a topic to the appropriate issues page, and ensuring that all legislative links point to the current session of Congress.


Characteristic #2: Timeliness

Questions to be answered:

  • Is the information on the Member's website up-to-date?
  • How current is the information in the issues section, press section, and elsewhere?
  • Have the links throughout the site been updated for the current Congress?

The specifics we look for:

  • The issues section of the website includes the hot topics of the current Congress.
  • The Member's priority issues are not left over from previous sessions of Congress.
  • The Member's specific accomplishments are from the current Congress.
  • Updates are done weekly at a minimum—daily if a major debate is occurring on the floor of the chamber and making news in the home district or state.
  • The issues section avoids generic statements with no reference to recent actions or actual position taking, such as "I support a quality education." These can frustrate users and harm the credibility of the Member.
  • Links to THOMAS, Roll Call votes, and others redirect to information for the 113th Congress, not the 112th.

Award-Winning Example: Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM)


10 Characteristics of an Award-Winning Member Website:

  1. Information on Issues
  2. Timeliness
  3. Usability
  4. Constituent Services and Casework
  5. Promoting Accountability to Constituents
  6. Legislative Process Information
  7. District/State Information
  8. Floor Proceedings
  9. Diversity of Communications Content
  10. Diversity of Communications Channels
 
 
 

ABOUT CMF

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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.

Our work focuses on improving congressional operations and enhancing citizen engagement through research, publications, training, and management services.

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PROJECTS

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Communicating with Congress The Internet forever changed how citizens and Congress interacts. The goal of this project is to facilitate a more meaningful democratic dialogue.

 

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Gold Mouse Project
Congress should effectively communicate with and serve citizens online. CMF assesses congressional websites to identify best and innovative practices that can be more widely adopted by the House and Senate.

 

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Inside the Hill
Produced by Founding Partner Fleishman-Hillard, this video series allows you to hear directly from Members and staff on how technology is changing the way Congress works.

 

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Life in Congress
This novel research project by CMF and the Society for Human Resource Management has two goals: identify the factors that motivate congressional staff and shed some light on Congress as a workplace.

 

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21st Century Town Hall Meetings CMF seeks to continue our innovative work in this area by conducting comparative research on in-person town halls, online town halls, and telephone town halls.