Ohio Congressman Brad Wenstrup (R-2nd Dist.) is a finalist for the first-ever Democracy Awards, a new award from the Congressional Management Foundation (CMF) recognizing non-legislative achievement and performance in congressional offices.
Wenstrup was selected for outstanding accomplishments for the category of Innovation. The Innovation category recognizes offices employing unique or innovative methods in their constituent interactions, communications, or office operations, according to a press release from CMF.
“As a finalist in Innovation for a Democracy Award, Rep. Wenstrup’s office is clearly one of the best in Congress,” said Bradford Fitch, president and CEO of the Congressional Management Foundation. “This designation demonstrates that Rep. Wenstrup has made a significant commitment to being the best public servant for his constituents in Ohio. Rep. Wenstrup and his staff are to be congratulated for not only being a model for colleagues in Congress, but for helping to restore trust and faith that our democratic institutions can work,” he said.
Wenstrup said Wednesday, “It’s an honor to be named a finalist for the Democracy Awards in the category of Innovation. Constituent service is a priority for my office, because I believe government was created to serve the people – not the other way around. That’s why my office prioritizes consistent communication, honest feedback, and close contact with constituents.”
According to the CMF website, in his first year in office Wenstrup “began conducting semi-annual constituent satisfaction surveys, one of the first Members of Congress to solicit unbiased feedback on a regular basis from constituents about their interactions with the office. The staff uses the data gathered to identify problems in their services or processes that need to be addressed. They even leave a space for open comments to encourage constituents to share opinions on any issue. The positive reaction the office received has motivated other Members of Congress to adopt the practice.”
Fitch told The Times-Gazette that while various congressional members send surveys, many include questions written to reinforce positions already held by the congressman or senator. He said Wenstrup’s surveys are “real,” with “honest questions seeking honest answers. Plus, this wasn’t a one-off thing. They do it almost quarterly, and integrate the answers into changes in their operations.”
Twenty House and Senate offices were honored as finalists in four categories: Constituent Service, Innovation, Transparency and Accountability, and “Life in Congress”-Workplace Environment. House and Senate personal offices nominated themselves using an online questionnaire for the four office categories. CMF followed up with offices to gather documentation and assess the office’s adherence to the established criteria. CMF staff selected the finalists based on the information provided by nominees.
A committee comprised primarily of former Members of Congress and former congressional staffers will select the two winners (one Democrat and one Republican) for each of the categories. Winners will be announced in mid-May. An awards ceremony to honor finalists and winners will be held on July 12.
The Founding Partner for the Democracy Awards is the Bridge Alliance, which provided a generous grant to launch the program. Bridge Alliance is a diverse coalition of more than 80 organizations committed to revitalizing democratic practice in America.
The Congressional Management Foundation (CMF) is a 501(c)(3) nonpartisan nonprofit whose mission is to build trust and effectiveness in Congress. Since 1977 CMF has worked internally with Member, committee, leadership, and institutional offices in the House and Senate to identify and disseminate best practices for management, workplace environment, communications, and constituent services. CMF also is the leading researcher and trainer on citizen engagement, educating thousands of individuals and facilitating better relationships with Congress. For more information, visit www.CongressFoundation.org.