Minneapolis—The Utah Legislature’s website took home the 2014 Online Democracy Award for producing a superior legislative website this week during the National Conference of State Legislatures’ (NCSL) 2014 Legislative Summit in Minneapolis.
NCSL's Online Democracy Award is given each year to a legislature, legislative chamber, or caucus whose website makes democracy user-friendly in an exceptional way. The winning website is chosen by a committee of legislative staffers who evaluate each site’s design, content and use of technology.
“Making government transparent and inclusive builds the nation, quietly, but just as consequentially as volunteers registering new voters, pioneers charting the wilderness, or revolutionaries marching at Valley Forge,” said Utah Senate President Wayne Niederhauser. “Online democracy is a giant leap in the evolution of local self-governance and human freedom.”
This is the second time Utah won the award—the Legislature’s website won the first prize when NCSL initiated the program in 2005. This year, the website won over the panel of judges with its simple interface and intuitive navigation that facilitates the public’s access to the Legislature.
According to the judges, the Utah site is “an information powerhouse.” It’s most notable features include:
- The sophisticated layout and functionality of the legislative calendar
- Straightforward search capabilities and options
- Fully integrated audio and video
- A mobile-friendly version
- Special attention to accessibility and a comprehensive ADA Web page
- Features that draw interest, such as the Taxpayer Receipt
- A “How can we improve this page?” element on every page that encourages public feedback.
"Now more than ever, we need citizens involved in their state government,” said Utah House Speaker Rebecca Lockhart (R). “We’ve worked hard to ensure that Utah’s legislative website makes government more transparent, more accountable and more approachable.”
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 Massachusetts Legislature (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.