Open CRS Document Upload

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Yesterday, Open CRS, a project of the Center for Democracy and Technology (and Sunlight grantee), posted links to 47 newly available Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports.  Included in this latest release by CDT is a report titled “Economic Stimulus: Issues and Policies.”  Uh, that one might be one worth reading. And I gather that another 60 or so reports are going to be posted later today.

CRS is a $100 million funded “think tank” that researches and writes reports for Congressional lawmakers and their staff on current topics as requested by are used to produce them. There are serious and smart analysts there and their reports are well worth reading if you are interested in the hot issues of the day. These reports are all served up on an internal server on the Hill but the public is denied access to them. The only way you can get them in by calling a lawmaker’s office to request a copy. (The Catch-22 is, of course, how do you know to ask about a report if its existence isn’t publicaly listed someplace.)  OpenCRS gets their copies from various people who choose to ‘liberate’ them. There is one commerical service that manages someway somehow to get all of them all. This service  charges and arm and a leg.

Sunlight shares CDT’s  demand that Congress open up all CRS reports to the public. This is an easy transparency reform that boggles the mind as to why it has not yet been done.

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  • Excellent post.
    Also, note that in early February 2009, Wikileaks posted a ton of CRS Reports as well:

    http://www.wikileaks.org/wiki/Congressional_Research_Service

  • Alex, thank you for your comment. Many of the reports are ending up in the public domain as it is, but not all. They must realize that the possibility exists that they will be made public at some point. And ultimately, they are funded by public dollars. The public should have the right to access them.

  • JeffAlex

    Sigh…I fell into the debate about making CRS reports public back in 1993 (yes, in the pre-Web days). The argument in favor of secrecy is the same then as it is now–they claim that they can’t give balanced, honest and objective advice to the Congress if they have to worry about their report text showing up in the press. (I have friends who are CRS analysts by the way, and I do appreciate some of their concerns…I just think the public benefit should weigh more.)