Press Release

Science Committee Website named “Best” on Hill – Site Receives First Congress Online Silver Mouse Award

By SpaceRef Editor
January 28, 2002
Filed under ,

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House Science Committee today was identified in a non-partisan, independent study as having one of the best 35 Web
sites in Congress. The site (www.house.gov/science) received the first Congress Online Silver Mouse Award from the Congress Online Project, a
joint research project of the Congressional Management Foundation and the George Washington University.

The study praised the Science Committee for being, “one of the few House committees now providing video Webcasts of committee and
subcommittee hearings. Congressional staff can watch Science Committee hearings from their offices, while lobbyists and reporters are saved a trip to
the Hill. Webcasts also engage the public in the legislative process and show them where the real action on Capitol Hill is – in committees.” The
study continued, “Additionally, the Science Committee Web site also includes ‘hearing charters’ for most hearings. A hearing charter, posted before
each Webcast, usually describes the purpose of the hearing and includes the witness list and information on the legislation or topic to be addressed at
the hearing.”

“I’m proud of the unique services and up-to-date information that our website provides,” said Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert
(R-NY). “And I’m thrilled that the staff members responsible for the design and maintenance of our site are being recognized for their efforts. We’ll
continue working to enhance and improve our site, for the benefit of all citizens.”

The Science Committee was one of a select few sites to be recognized by the study, “Congress Online: Assessing and Improving Capitol Hill Web
Sites.” Overall, the report found a “disconcerting digital divide within the Congress” between a small group of congressional offices that host “good to
excellent” Web sites that meet citizens’ online needs and the vast majority that host “fair to failing” sites. More specifically, the study determined
that while 10% of congressional office Web sites received a grade of A or B, 90% received a grade of C, D, or F. The overall grade point average for all
congressional offices was 1.67 or C-.

The study, written by the Congress Online Project, evaluated 605 Web sites in Congress – all Member office, committee and leadership sites — to
determine which sites were the best and to assess how well Congress was using this new communications medium. This research is the first to
combine a comprehensive analysis and grading of all congressional Web sites. The study awarded 15 sites with the Congress Online Gold Mouse
Awards and 20 sites with Silver Mouse awards.

The report found there were major differences among the best sites when broken out by chamber and party. House Republican offices won 79% of
the award-winning sites in the House while Senate Democratic offices won 73% of the awards in the Senate. House committee and House leadership
Web sites also were judged to be far superior to Senate committee sites, earning eight of the ten committee awards and all four of the leadership site
awards.

Web site traffic indicates that superior Capitol Hill Web sites are getting more visitors than weaker sites. One leadership site received 1.7 million
“user sessions” in 2001 (a Web measurement for unique visits to the site). Average traffic to another award-winning site, reached 2,500 user sessions
in November 2001, surpassing the combined average number of constituents who contact the office through other means. The House of
Representatives reported that House Web sites received more than 500 million “hits” in 2001.

The report is designed to both critique current Web site practices and to provide a blueprint for congressional offices that wish to improve their Web
sites. The Web sites were graded using five criteria essential to good congressional Web sites: audience, content, interactivity, usability, and
innovations. The research included multiple reviews of the sites by the project team and an independent panel, interviews with congressional staff,
and available studies on best practices in Web sites. CMF (www.cmfweb.org) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan education organization devoted to
promoting a more effective Congress. The George Washington University, through its Graduate School of Political Management (GSPM), is
conducting a series of studies on the impact of Internet and electronic communications on American democracy. The Pew Charitable Trusts
(www.pewtrusts.com) support nonprofit activities in the areas of culture, education, the environment, health and human services, public policy and
religion.

The complete list of the Congress Online Gold and Silver Mouse Award winners is available in the report:

www.congressonlineproject.org/webstudy2002.html.

SpaceRef staff editor.