More Citizens are Using the Internet to Engage with Government

The Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project released a new report which found that most Internet users have visited a government website to get information or complete a transaction during the last year. The findings are based on a survey of 2,258 adults 18 or older. According to the report, about a quarter of adults have posted their own comments online about government issues, participated in an online town hall meeting or joined a group that tries to influence policies.

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Gold Mouse Awards Reveal the Best Congressional Websites

The Congressional Management Foundation (CMF) announced the Gold Mouse Awards for the 111th Congress. 620 websites were evaluated, including all Members, committees, and leadership sites, to determine the best congressional websites. 131 offices were selected for a Gold, Silver or Bronze Mouse Award.

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New Tools to Help Advocates with Campaign Finance Data

A new site, TransparencyData.com, is acclaimed as "a central source for all federal and state campaign contributions made in the last twenty years." The Sunlight Foundation teamed up with the National Institute on Money in State Politics and the Center for Responsive Politics, and by merging data from these groups, produced a new development in the availability of campaign finance data.

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"Dollar Politics"

National Public Radio (NPR) has started an interesting series of investigative reports called Dollar Politics, examining the relationships between Congress and interest groups in regards to current major legislative issues: health care, energy policy and financial regulation.

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Senate May Soon Consider Bill Requiring Electronic Filing of Campaign Finance Data

POLITICO reports that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) are negotiating when to bring up a common sense bill that has been held up for years. The Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act, S.482, would require campaign fundraising reports to be published on online as House candidates, presidential candidates and other political committees already do.

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Groups Call on Senators to Support S.482

OMB Watch signed on to a letter sent to every Senator asking them to support S. 482, the Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act and oppose any amendment to the bill. S482 would require Senate candidates and committees to file their campaign finance reports electronically, as House candidates, presidential candidates and other political committees already do.

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Strategic Giving

USA Today reports that regardless of the gift ban under the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act (HLOGA), signed into law in 2007, lobbyists continue to spend a vast amount of money to honor members of Congress or donate to nonprofits connected to them. The law requires lobbyists and entities that employ lobbyists to report payments to events or groups associated with legislators or top federal officials.

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Coming Soon: 2009 Gold Mouse Awards

The Congressional Management Foundation (CMF) will soon begin evaluating all 618 House and Senate Web sites with a report expected by the end of the year. Since 2002 the CMF has been giving out the Gold Mouse awards along with a report on congressional Web sites. Each site will be given grades ranging from A+ to F with a personalized report and recommendations. The average grade last time in 2007 was a D.

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Pass S. 482!

During the 110th Congress OMB Watch was a part of a campaign, pass S. 223. The Campaign Disclosure Parity Act would simply require senators to file their campaign finance reports electronically. And now ten groups have joined in the same effort which has become pass S. 482, where everyone can help us to get the bill passed. There is a list of all senators and information regarding whether they support the measure.

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Congress on YouTube

YouTube has joined with Congress to release two new Web pages, one for the House and one for the Senate, where every lawmaker will be able to create their own video channel. Some members of Congress already have channels, but this portal may encourage more to do the same. The site can also be a way to promote members' agendas and a way for citizens to interact with Congress. The House and Senate pages will highlight different members and host events, such as community chats.

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