Access to Congressional Research Service reports is important but not guaranteed

I’ve talked here before about CRS reports and how even though they’re created on the public’s dime, there’s no easy and simple way to search for and actually access them without requesting them one by one via your congresspeople. This is frustrating. Apparently, it’s not even widely known that this is not the case. Secrecy News Blog, from the Federation of American Scientists Project on Government Secrecy, reports that the Librarian of Congress isn’t even quite clear on this.

Members of the public enjoy unrestricted access to all reports of the Congressional Research Service, according to the Librarian of Congress, Dr. James H. Billington.

Though CRS has no direct public mission, at present the public has unfettered access to the full inventory of CRS Reports for the Congress at no cost through the office of any Member or committee,” he wrote in an April 4 letter (pdf) to Amy Bennett of Openthegovernment.org.

Unfortunately, that assertion is quite wrong. The public does not have access to the full inventory of CRS Reports. There is not even a public index of CRS reports that would enable people to request specific reports by title.

If you find this sort of thing totally fascinating, please familiarize yourself with the work that OpenCRS is doing and see if there is a way you can help them. Just look at all this good stuff. [freegovinfo]

One Response to “Access to Congressional Research Service reports is important but not guaranteed”

  1. Bryan Says:

    Have you seen all the CRS reports that Wikileaks obtained? Go to: “WikiLeaks CRS reports listing” | http://stuff.mit.edu/afs/sipb/contrib/wikileaks-crs/wikileaks-crs-reports/

    Here is an article about the Wikileaks disclosure: WikiLeaks Publishes CRS Reports; Gov’t Still Doesn’t” | http://www.propublica.org/article/wikileaks-publishes-crs-reports-govt-still-doesnt-090210