On Tuesday July 10, Representatives Leonard Lance (R-NJ-07) and Mike Quigley (D-Ill-05) introduced H. Res. 727, the Public Access to Congressional Research Service Reports Resolution of 2012. The resolution would require the Congressional Research Service (CRS) to make their reports publicly available. CRS is a division of the Library of Congress which provides policy and legal analysis for use by members of Congress and their staff. American taxpayers spend more than $100 million a year supporting the work of the CRS.
Similar to reports by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and Congressional Budget Office (CBO), CRS reports offer in-depth information and analysis across the entire legislative process and are governed by requirements for accuracy, objectivity, and non-partisanship. While the GAO and CBO have made their work publicly available, the CRS has not.
Websites such as Open CRS and the University of North Texas Libraries already provide a public service by making thousands of reports freely available online, and commercial third-party services offer the reports for a fee. Members of the public can request a particular report from their Congressional representatives, but only if they are already aware of the existence of the report.
The Lance-Quigley measure would direct the Clerk of the House to make CRS reports available for search and download on a publicly accessible website. Confidential and copyrighted information would be redacted, along with the names and contact information for the report’s author and confidential memoranda between CRS and individual members of Congress.
CRS reports play a critical role in our democratic process by providing key historical context and options for further action. When made publicly available, CRS reports inform the public debate about our nation’s most urgent policy priorities. AALL has long advocated for the public availability of these reports. We believe the public has a strong interest in accessing these valuable, taxpayer-funded reports and a right to do so.
Contact your Representative today and ask him/her to support H. Res. 727. You can use our Legislative Action Center to customize and send a sample message, or follow tips from the newly redesigned Advocacy Toolkit to call or meet with your member of Congress. Whichever method you choose, it is crucial to speak out in support of this important bill.
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