Resolution Introduced To Make Public Domain Congressional Research Finally Accessible To The Public

from the that-would-be-good dept

For years, we've been noting the absurdity of how Congress keeps the output of the Congressional Research Service (CRS) totally secret. As you hopefully know, works produced by the federal government are mostly not subject to copyright, and are in the public domain. Of course, just because something is in the public domain doesn't mean anyone has a requirement to make it available -- and Congress has long used that loophole to keep CRS reports very, very secret. Often this is because the CRS -- who has a very strong reputation for quality, non-biased, non-partisan, non-lobbying-influenced work -- produces research that shows that various Congressional proposals are a joke. And Congress doesn't want that info let out. Three years ago, Wikileaks jumpstarted some discussion by releasing thousands of CRS reports, but many think that the information, as public domain, should be more widely available.

Last year, we wrote about a bunch of groups sending a letter to Congress asking them to support making CRS reports public -- and it looks like some in Congress may actually be paying attention. Rep. Leonard Lance has introduced (with Reps. Quigley, Johnson, Cooper and Schiff) a resolution to make certain CRS publications available to the public. It's unclear if this has any chance of going anywhere, but it's good to see some interest in this issue.

The resolution asks the Clerk of the House to work with CRS to "establish and maintain a centralized, searchable, bulk downloadable, electronic database" which will include a bunch of CRS documents. Specifically:
(A) Congressional Research Service Issue Briefs.

(B) Congressional Research Service Reports.

(C) Congressional Research Service Authorization of Appropriations Products and Appropriations Products.

(D) Materials intended or available for general congressional distribution that are the same or substantially similar in content to CRS Reports, Issue Briefs, and Appropriations Products.
Having this info public would be a huge boon for the public. Hopefully Congress actually pays attention.

Filed Under: congress, congressional research service, public domain

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  1. identicon
    Mr. Applegate, 20 Jul 2012 @ 11:55am

    Re: Re: Re: How will this encourage Congress to continue using CRS?

    If (and I don't know that this is true) CRS is not beholden to congress, The President, Businesses... then there would be no real pressure.

    You only become a political football if you allow yourself to. What I am saying is that it could happen that CRS becomes useless, but it might not. It is not a given.

    In my job as a consultant, I always "Tell it like it is" (or at least as I see it) without coloring it the way the vendor, client or anyone else wants. That is what I am paid to do. Doing that might cost me future work, but it is what I am paid to do.

    CRS should be no different. There should be no controls on CRS, and Hands off by everyone else.

    I know I live in some strange world. But if you came up and offered me $10,000,000 to say the sky was yellow I would tell you to FO.

    It's called integrity, and some people actually still have it.

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