Study finds a widening gap between best, worst congressional Web sites

Foundation's Mouse Awards honor the best on the Hill but find a digital divide

Agency information technology leaders are quite familiar with the idea of using the Web to connect with constituents. How well do their brethren in the legislative branch, which has been known to pay attention to constituents, fare in this regard?

The Congressional Management Foundation, through its Partnership For A More Perfect Union, this week released the results of a study of congressional Web sites, in which it named this year’s winners of the Mouse Awards. Although the study found a lot to like about Capitol Hill Web sites, it also found more than a few to be lacking.

“The down and dirty,” the CMF report concluded, “is that the good Web sites are getting better and the bad are getting worse.”


Agency Web masters:

GCN’s Great dot-gov Web sites 2009


CMF rated all 620 congressional Web sites on anywhere from 49 to 93 criteria and found what it called a digital divide on the Hill: The most common grades were A and F. So it appears that many congressional offices either get it or they don’t. (CMF declines to name the lowest scorers, however, saying that their goal is to praise the good sites rather than ridicule the poor ones.) All sites that earned an A received a Mouse Award, either a Gold, Silver or Bronze Mouse. And the top site in each category got a Platinum Mouse.

The Platinum winners:

Senate: Lisa Murkowski, (R-Alaska), http://murkowski.senate.gov

House: Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), http://israel.house.gov/

Committee: House Committee on Science and Technology, http://science.house.gov/

Leadership: House Republican Conference, http://www.gop.gov/

Senate sites outscored House sites, although the report said that was expected, since Senate officers have larger staffs and more money. And although Democratic sites outnumbered Republican, by virtue of being the majority party, GOP sites scored better, with 62 percent of Republican sites getting a C or higher, compared with 54 percent for the Democrats.

About the Author

Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.

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