June 05, 2019

Improving Constituent Communication and Engagement

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress (“Select Committee”) today held a hearing to examine the current state of Congress’ communication and engagement with the American people. The hearing focused on specific types of communications, new technologies for improving deliberative dialogue between member offices and constituents, the future of constituent engagement, and recommendations for improving the way members and staff interact with constituents.


Brad Fitch, President and CEO of Congressional Management Foundation, Michael Neblo, Professor of Political Science at Ohio State University, and Marci Harris, Developer of Constituent Engagement Tools and a former Congressional staffer, testified in front of the Select Committee. The witnesses highlighted a few common trends and the challenges that often face Members of Congress and their staff when engaging with constituents.


“Today’s hearing highlighted the opportunity to improve engagement with our constituents. We use new data and technology every day to improve our lives and connect with each other across different platforms, there’s no reason our approach to governing should be any different,” said Chairman Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and Vice Chairman Tom Graves (R-GA).


The Congressional Management Foundation estimates that the U.S. House of Representatives receives nearly 30 million messages from constituents annually. In a recent poll, the Foundation found that 79 percent said mass email campaigns are their top strategy to influence Congress. However, the average open rate for constituents receiving a response from their Member of Congress after contacting them was less than 40 percent. All three of the witnesses shared best practices and ways to create more meaningful conversations with constituents nationwide. These suggestions included modernizing the Congressional Frank, allow for bulk purchasing technology and equipment to ensure more streamlined capability across the institution, and utilizing social media during events like live-streaming Town Halls to connect with constituents in a more meaningful and deliberative way.


To learn more about the Select Committee, please click here.


To view today’s hearing livestream, please click here.

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