Bipartisan Lawmakers Renew Call for Public CRS Reports
WASHINGTON, D.C. --- Every year thousands of non-confidential reports are compiled by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) for use by Congressional offices and today U.S. Representatives Leonard Lance (NJ-07) and Mike Quigley (D-IL-05) reintroduced legislation to open those reports to the public. The Equal Access to Congressional Research Service Reports Act directs the Congressional Research Service to publish its reports on govinfo.gov – a site managed by the Government Printing Office (GPO) that will serve as a one-stop shop for public information.
“The CRS needs to be updated on how it conducts business. It’s 2017 and there are over 30,000 CRS reports the public cannot immediately access. Any student, reporter, taxpayer or interested citizen should be allowed to log online and view these reports. These reports are paid for by taxpayer funds, the taxpayers should be able to read them. And our national discourse could use as much factual, non-partisan information as possible. Let’s end the era of secrecy and open these reports,” said Lance, who is leading the House legislation.
Information compiled by the Congressional Research Service is not publically available. Since 1914, reports have only been available for request through House and Senate offices and the bipartisan lawmakers say it is time to bring CRS into the 21st century. Requesting CRS reports through House and Senate offices is often cited as a throwback to the era of patronage jobs and hard-copy reports being too long and expensive for CRS to be available to send through the mail. Good government and transparency groups and tax payer advocacy organizations support allowing these reports to be publically available and interjecting nonpartisan, factual information into public discourse. The lawmakers also want to end the “black market” of CRS reports by which connected individuals and lobbyists obtain reports from contacts on Capitol Hill but everyday Americans are not able to easily view these reports. The lawmakers determined that GPO has the experience and infrastructure in place to host government documents for use by the general public in a user friendly format that CRS does not.
Congressional Research Belongs to the Public (The New York Times)
Give public access to Congressional research reports (Lance and Quigley, The Hill)
The publicly funded reports you can’t read (Samuelson, Politico)
15 reasons CRS reports should be public (Kosar, R Street)