Crisis communications guidelines for constituent communication, including outreach plans for extended telework periods, should be approved and shared with all Member offices.
Communicating with and assisting constituents during a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic can be challenging. Office staff need to act quickly to address constituent concerns but are slowed by limited access to resources, complicated approval processes, outdated ethics and franking rules, and high costs. Guidelines on handling constituent communications in emergency circumstances would help offices better prepare to communicate with and help constituents during a crisis.
The House Communication Standards Commission should outline an expedited review process, as well as crisis-specific sample text for offices to reference. In particular, the Commission should consider exceptions to current “blackout dates” to allow Members to communicate emergency information to their constituents.
At the conclusion of the 116th Congress, the Commission should provide a report to the Committee on House Administration evaluating Member use of the frank during the COVID-19 pandemic, including any violations that may have occurred, and recommendations for improvement.