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Social Media Innovations in Congress Add to Transparency and Accountability | Commentary

Rep. Michael M. Honda, D-Calif., is the only member of Congress who has won an award from the CMF during every evaluation since the Gold Mouse Awards were founded in 2002. His social media efforts are worthy of emulation because of their comprehensive nature ó sort of an Olympic Decathlon winner of online communications. He conducts outreach via paper and email inviting constituents to connect with him online and via social media. He uses telephone town halls integrated with Facebook to respond to constituent questions. He uses Eventbrite ó a social-media-connected event management system ó to organize in-person events in his district.

Using online communications tools to demonstrate transparency and accountability, as the winners of the Gold Mouse Awards for Social Media do, isnít just good policy, itís good politics. Americans need a responsive Congress online. The CMF recognizes this is a tall order to fill, but the members of Congress lauded in our latest report demonstrate it can be done. And the result is more than a few points in a higher approval rating for one legislator. The ultimate benefits are an enhanced democratic dialogue, a greater appreciation of public service, and a better functioning Congress.

Bradford Fitch is president and CEO of the Congressional Management Foundation; Kathy Goldschmidt is the CMF director of strategic initiatives and has been studying congressional online communications since 1998.

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