The Congressional Research Service (CRS) recently updated its helpful report, “Researching Current Federal Legislation and Regulations: A Guide to Resources for Congressional Staff.” A guide to finding current legislation and regulations, the report won’t offer much that’s new for those who have experience with legislative search tools, but can serve as an excellent introduction or reference.
H/T to the Free Government Information (FGI) blog for pointing out the report’s interesting comparison of the information available through the Congressional Legislative Information System (LIS) and the publically accessible THOMAS:
One thing I particularly liked was the comparison on p. 13 of the “Legislative Information System,” which provides access to legislative information to Members of Congress and their staff, and THOMAS, which makes information on federal legislation freely available to the public. That’s right, one system for Congress and a separate system for us ordinary folk.
Here is a sample:
|Best used for Finding the most complete legislative information||Best used for Working with constituents|
|Links from Bill Summary & Status display to CRS reports||No CRS reports|
|Links to Capitol Hill and selected outside sources of floor and committee schedule information.||Minimal links|
|Special advanced search capabilities||Advanced search capabilities only in Bill Summary & Status database|
The House Administration Committee is poised to consider H.Res. 727, the Congressional Research Service Electronic Accessibility Resolution of 2012, which would make CRS reports available online in a free, public database. It’s likely the bill could come to a vote in the lame duck session. CRS reports play a critical role in our democratic process by providing key historical context and options for further action— as well as useful, interesting information like that in the report above. Contact your representative today and ask them to support H.Res. 727 for greater public access to this important resource.