Carper, Coons’ Senate websites named two of the best on Capitol Hill

Websites ranked among the best in biennial review by Congressional Management Foundation

WASHINGTON – The official websites of U.S. Senator Tom Carper and U.S. Senator Chris Coons (both D-Del.) were named two of the best Congressional websites on Monday in a biennial ranking by the Congressional Management Foundation. Senator Carper was honored with a Gold Mouse Award. Senator Coons was honored with a Bronze Mouse Award and was the only member of the Senate’s 13-member class of 2010 to be recognized.

“My top priority is to serve my constituents to the best of my ability by being accessible and helpful, and in a world where our daily communication is increasingly digitized and online, it is critically important that my ‘online office’ is just as effective and useful as my traditional ones are,” Senator Carper. “That’s why I strive to maintain a website that will ensure that my constituents can quickly and easily access the information they need, whether it is on a bill that I’ve sponsored, applying for a grant or academy nomination, or to get news on a natural disaster. I make a point of traveling throughout the First State and to and from Washington, D.C. nearly every week, and I want Delawareans to see the work that I’m doing on their behalf and learn how they can get more involved. My website, as well as my e-newsletter, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts, help me to more effectively communicate with my constituents and, in doing so, hopefully allows me to better serve them.”

“Engaging with Delawareans about the issues impacting their families and their communities is a critical part of this job,” Senator Coons said. “Building an accessible and engaging virtual office was a priority from the moment I was elected last year because our website and social media channels play a significant role not only in sharing the work that I’m doing for our state, but in allowing Delawareans to voice their opinions and get assistance with issues with federal agencies. We put a lot of energy into features like our robust blog and Correspondence from the Commute, and will continue to explore innovative new ways of engaging with Delawareans.”

Congressional Management Foundation researchers looked at the websites of 618 Congressional offices, leadership offices, and committees from June to September this year. Only 98 win awards at the platinum, gold, silver, or bronze levels.

“Senators Carper and Coons are to be commended for educating citizens and achieving the highest degree of transparency and accountability in online communications,” said Bradford Fitch, President and CEO of the Congressional Management Foundation. “In the 21st Century, a website is much more than a broadcasting tool for a political message – it’s a virtual office and a window into our democratic institutions. These winners of the Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze Mouse Awards understand the value of using the Internet to enlighten and serve constituents, and are examples for all congressional offices to follow.”

Each website is reviewed using 92 criteria in 10 categories: usability of website; timeliness of content; breadth and depth of information on issues; constituent services and casework information; promoting accountability to constituents; legislative process information; district/state information; floor proceedings information; availability of diverse forms of content; and availability of diverse forms of content channels. Offices’ social media profiles were also reviewed.

The Congressional Management Foundation performs the Gold Mouse Award review in the first year of each new Congress.

Senator Carper also won a Gold Mouse Award in 2003.

Founded in 1977, 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. Its work focuses on improving congressional operations and enhancing citizen engagement through research, publications, training, and management services. The Gold Mouse Awards and congressional website research is part of CMF’s Partnership for a More Perfect Union, dedicated to enriching the relationship between citizens and Congress. The goal of the Partnership is to further meaningful civic engagement through education, re-establishing trust, and providing innovative and pragmatic tools to facilitate purposeful two-way communication between citizens and Congress.