10.24.11

Leahy’s Website Garners High Honor In Congressional Awards

Site Is Touted As An Example Of Award-Winning Usability

WASHINGTON (Monday, Oct. 24) – Senator Patrick Leahy’s website has been honored once again by the Congressional Management Foundation (CMF) with a Silver Mouse Award. The CMF, a non-profit, nonpartisan organization, assesses all official Congressional websites every two years and ranks them based on various criteria related to ease of use and quality.

The CMF began studying congressional websites in 1998 with the objective of providing members of Congress with feedback on how best to communicate with constituents and promote understanding of the institution and issues. This year’s study – the 112th Congress Gold Mouse Awards: Best Practices In Online Communications On Capitol Hill – evaluated 618 websites, including those of all Senate and House members and delegates, committees (both majority and minority sites) and official leadership sites. Since 2009, the CMF has partnered with the Harvard Kennedy School, Northeastern University, University of California-Riverside, and the Ohio State University to complete its research. The in-depth study is funded through private donations.

Leahy is one of seven Senate Members to win a Silver Mouse Award this year. Additionally, as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Leahy was awarded the Bronze Mouse Award for the committee’s site, marking the first time the Committee has been honored in two consecutive reports. Leahy is one of only nine members to win multiple awards in this round. According to the report, of the 98 Mouse Awards given this year, there were 4 Platinum (top winner), 24 Gold (A plus), 31 silver (A) and 39 Bronze (A minus).

Leahy said, “The web continues to be an increasingly important way to connect with Vermonters. My hope is that my website is a virtual gateway to the work of my office and is as user-friendly as possible. In a world where the ‘issue of the day’ changes rapidly, providing up-to-date information is essential. Maintaining a useful, informative, and interesting site is a challenge, but one that I take very seriously and will continually strive to meet.”

This year’s evaluation assessed multiple dimensions of website quality including readability, navigation, issue information, promoting accountability to constituents, and timeliness. CMF’s report cites Leahy’s official website as an example of “Award-Winning Usability,” explaining that “consistency and clarity are crucial as they are the most important contributions to an easily navigable site.” The report states that, “The winners of the Mouse Awards set the bar for congressional websites. They create online offices that are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”

Senator Leahy was the second senator to launch a website, in 1995. He was co-founder and is a Senate co-chair of the Congressional Internet Caucus and is occasionally referred to as the “cyber senator” for his ongoing leadership on issues related to the Internet and technology. In the past, Leahy has been the recipient of three Gold Mouse Awards and one Bronze Mouse Award for his official website.

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