Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Transparency for the Congressional Research Service

Recently, bipartisan bills were introduced in both houses of Congress (S 2639 and HR 4702) that authorize the U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) to make reports prepared for Congress freely available to the public. Libraries, educators, and groups advocating for transparency in government support the legislation. An agency within the Library of Congress, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) employs more than 400 policy analysts, attorneys, and information professionals across a variety of disciplines in five research divisions: American Law; Domestic Social Policy; Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade; Government and Finance; and Resources, Science and Industry.  CRS provides policy and legal analysis to Congress, and its reports remain the province of congressional members and their staff. They are released to the public mainly when referred to during hearings. A new website,, was launched in December 2015, and purports to be the “largest free and public collection of Congressional Research Service reports.” The earliest report in the repository is from 1989. The "Search" function is, at present, rudimentary. 

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