Members Can Post CRS Reports

Posted September 17, 2003 at 6:37pm

At least some Congressional Research Service reports — traditionally difficult to obtain — will now be easy to access with a simple click.

The House Administration Committee advised Members this week of a new way they can make CRS reports and briefs available to the public on a selective basis.

The announcement comes at the end of a pilot effort first implemented in 2001 that explored allowing some House Members or committees to provide public access to such reports through their Web sites.

“The pilot has provided useful information and has enabled us to develop an improved method for making selective distribution of CRS products an option for all Members and committees,” House Administration Chairman Bob Ney (R-Ohio) and ranking member John Larson (D-Conn.) wrote in a letter this week.

The new system — made available to all Member and committee offices Wednesday — allows lawmakers to search the CRS site in different ways to find products that they can link to their own sites. Web users selecting such links from Members’ or committee sites will obtain the latest versions of CRS reports.

For many years Congress placed restrictions on the release of CRS products to the public “on the principle that the service, as an extension of Congressional staff, should focus exclusively on serving Congressional offices,” the lawmakers noted in their letter.

Members have fought those restrictions for years, arguing that CRS is a taxpayer-funded entity and taxpayers ought to be entitled to access to its products.

CRS has also fought such moves, arguing that it would afford the CRS fewer legal protections and leave it vulnerable to civil lawsuits.