Seattle—The Tennessee General Assembly’s website took home the 2015 Online Democracy Award for having a superior legislative website this week during the National Conference of State Legislatures’ (NCSL) 2015 Legislative Summit in Seattle.
NCSL's Online Democracy Award is presented annually to a legislature, legislative chamber or caucus whose website makes democracy user-friendly in an outstanding way. The winning website is chosen by a committee of legislative staffers who evaluate each site’s design, content and technological integration.
This is the second time Tennessee has won the award. The state’s first honor was in 2009. This year, the website swayed the panel of judges with its simple yet stimulating interface that facilitates public access to the workings of the legislature.
Judges praised the site for making them feel “invited in,” calling it “warm and welcoming”—essential qualities when engaging citizens. Its most notable features include:
- An appealing and consistent design
- Direct access to legislators and the legislative calendar
- Straightforward search capabilities including multiple options
- Fresh content but easy to access past information
- Bill summaries written in plain English
- Fully integrated audio and video
- A mobile-friendly version
- Features of interest, such as “My Bills,” a personalized bill tracking service.
“I am so proud of our team here at the Tennessee General Assembly for creating a user-friendly website that benefits all Tennesseans,” said Tennessee Speaker of the House Beth Harwell. “It is an honor to be recognized by NCSL for our efforts. Transparency is a priority in the democratic process, and enables citizens to be engaged, informed and in touch with their elected representatives. Utilizing the technology available to promote transparency will continue to be a priority of mine as speaker of the House.”
"This is a tremendous honor for the Tennessee General Assembly,” said Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey. “I have consistently made openness and transparency priority one during my tenure as speaker of the Senate.
“The key to any successful democracy is an educated and informed citizenry,” he added. “The Office of Legislative Information Systems worked hard to make our site intuitive and user-friendly, enabling more citizens to become active participants in their democracy. I am extremely proud of our team and grateful to NCSL for recognizing our ability to leverage technology to bring state government closer to the people it serves."
The Online Democracy Award is sponsored by two of NCSL's legislative staff organizations: the National Association of Legislative Information Technology (NALIT) and the Legislative Information and Communications Staff (LINCS).
Previous winners of the NCSL Online Democracy Award include the Utah Legislature (2014), Massachusetts General Court (2013), Hawaii Legislature (2012), Florida Senate (2011), Washington Legislature (2010), Tennessee General Assembly (2009), Texas Legislature (2008), New Jersey Legislature (2007), Minnesota Legislature (2006) and the Utah Legislature (2005).
NCSL is a bipartisan organization that serves the legislators and staffs of the states, commonwealths and territories. It provides research, technical assistance and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas on the most pressing state issues and is an effective and respected advocate for the interests of the states in the American federal system.