Who are some of the hardest working men and women in Washington, D.C.? Congress, apparently. Members of Congress work an average of 70 hours per week when in session and nearly 60 hours per week for district work periods, with approximately 13 meetings a day, according to a report by the Business-Industry Political Action Committee and the Congressional Management Foundation. Congress gets knocked for its work practices constantly — and the 113th is on track to be one of the least productive congresses — but members are busy with active schedules.
"Perceptions of Congress inside the Beltway are significantly different because we all know people who work on Capitol Hill, and the work that is involved with that," said Bo Harmon, BIPAC's senior vice president for political affairs. "People outside of Washington don’t always have that direct relationship with Capitol Hill. Perceptions are very different."
The report is a compilation of research the CMF conducted from 2011 to 2013, including approximately 200 interviews with members of Congress and senior staff. The findings, titled "Best Practices for Employer-to-Employee Communication with the U.S. Congress," includes methods to improve communications, interactions and the relationship between citizens and Congress.
Harmon said the results would be distributed to his group's members, with a goal of increasing political engagement. "There are so many issues, and we don’t hear about them as often, that aren’t partisan or ideological. On those things, the input from a members' constituents is enormously persuasive in determining their stance," Harmon said.
Other findings include the change in communication surrounding social media. Offices report a 3,000 percent increase in constituent communication over the past decade, largely attributed to the ease of sending written messages. Nearly two-thirds of senior and social media managers surveyed said Facebook is a "somewhat or very important tool" for understanding constituents’ views and opinions; nearly half said the same of Twitter.
But Twitter might be gaining in influence. "This survey data was taken right when Twitter was coming on board," said Bradford Fitch, president and CEO of the Congressional Management Foundation. "Facebook was the first to market on Capitol Hill, and I think Twitter has now caught up and is an equal use platform."
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