Report finds congressional members doing a better job of managing e-mail

Report finds congressional members doing a better job of managing e-mail

Members of Congress are doing a better job of filtering e-mail and using electronic means to communicate with constituents, according to a report released yesterday by the Congress Online Project, a joint research initiative of the Congressional Management Foundation and George Washington University.

The report, E-mail Overload in Congress—Update, interviewed staff members of five senators and seven members of the House to follow up on how Congress is adapting e-mail and technology to its daily routine. In March 2001, the Congress Online Project reported that members received about 80 million e-mail messages in 2000.

The latest review found that the increase in e-mail to Congress has leveled off this year. The number of e-mail messages Congress received increased by 50 percent or more each year from 1999 to 2001. The House has received 2.5 percent more e-mail this year than 2001, while the Senate has seen a 24-percent jump.

In all, the House receives about 234,245 e-mail messages a day, and Senate offices get 88,009.

The report cited two factors for the leveling off of e-mail:

  • IT improvements filter spam better and let constituents use Web forms to contact lawmakers. More than half of the members now direct constituents to their Web sites to send messages or fill out Web forms.

  • Online grassroots campaigns have encouraged the public to e-mail legislators who specifically represent them instead of sending e-mail to the entire House or Senate.
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