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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.


Characteristic #4: Constituent Services and Casework

Questions to be answered:

  • What services can the Member provide?
  • Are all of the various processes constituents can go through with your office explained clearly?
  • In addition to explaining how to use a given service, do you also explain why?
  • Are explanations provided alongside any forms?

The specifics we look for:

  • Online access to the full range of information, services and resources that are requested by constituents offline.
  • As much substantive guidance and information as possible so constituents can serve themselves through the website.
  • Explanations of forms, what they are for, and what users should do with them, rather than simply posting a PDF.
  • FAQ's about the types of casework and specific links to descriptions of the most common problems and solutions.
  • Because constituents are not always familiar with what they can ask of their Member of Congress, it is just as important to describe how or why a constituent can use a service as it is to supply the service itself.
  • Other resources that can be included on the Member's website include:
    • Tour information and request forms;
    • Flag ordering information and request forms;
    • Internship application and instructions;
    • Service Academy Nomination applications and instructions;
    • Grant information; and
    • Guidance on scheduling a meeting with the Member or staff.

Award-Winning Example: Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA)


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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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.