Washington (CNN) – A new study unveiled Wednesday night about use of technology by Congress had some good news for both Democrats and Republicans. The study also concluded that the Senate is doing a better job overall than the House when it comes to communicating online.
The study by the Congressional Management Foundation was used to determine the Mouse Awards, a competition intended to encourage technological innovation on Capitol Hill. Member websites are judged on 93 criteria, including the timeliness of their content, the amount of information on the issues, how the site handles constituent services and casework, the integration of social media, the ability to search, and usability.
"The most effective websites are those where the congressional office treats their website as a second or third district office where a constituent can get any service or kind of information that the office can make available online," said Congressional Management Foundation spokesman Tim Hysom told CNN. He noted that one of the biggest problems on websites is "not providing easy access to the members voting record."
The 620 official congressional websites were judged in four categories: House members, Senate members, House and Senate Committees, and House and Senate leadership websites. The Congressional Management Foundation awarded each site a letter grade. One hundred thirty-five sites received an A- or above. Within that top-performing group, those who scored an A-received a bronze medal in the Mouse Awards, A's received a silver medal, and A+'s received a gold medal. A platinum medal was given to the best site in each category.
Overall, Senate sites scored better than House sites. "The Senate's performance is not surprising, given that Senate offices generally have more financial and staff resources than House offices," the foundation's report notes. "House Member sites underperformed in some of the most crucial areas, including Issue Content, Timeless, and Usability."
Democratic sites outnumbered Republican sites by a ratio of 3 to 2, but Republican sites scored better overall with 62 percent of Republican and 54 percent of Democratic websites scoring a "C" or higher. However, Democrats won more total awards (75) than Republicans (60), specifically earning more than twice as many gold Awards. Each party received an equal number of platinum awards.
"There is not a unanimous win for either side," Hysom said. "Both sides have things to be proud of and both sides have some additional work to do before they can claim unanimous victory. But we are really excited about the innovation we are seeing on both sides of the aisle."
The platinum medals went to Republican Lisa Murkowski of Alaska for best Senate member website, Democrat Steve Israel of New York for best House member site, the House Committee on Science and Technology for the best committee site and the House Republican Conference for best leadership site.