Congressional Research Service Newspapers

Kotlikoff: w2462 Published: Journal of Political Economy, Vol. Although CRS has testified and written policy positions opposing the distribution of its products to the public, other legislative agencies with functions similar to those of the CRS - the General Accounting Office (GAO) and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) - have made their products available to the public.

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Congressional Research Service Newspapers

CRS's products include briefs, reports, short issue papers and longer position papers.Both the GAO and CBO have done so without compromising their responsibilities to Congress, relinquishing their constitutional protections, or violating any legal prohibitions.The Project on Government Oversight supports efforts to make CRS reports available over the internet and more accessible to the public.Ability to search all CRS reports and issue briefs via the CRS Home Page; these products can be searched, displayed, and printed.Unfortunately, neither CRS's products nor its websites are readily available to the public.According to the mission statement of the Library of Congress, "the unifying purpose of providing the public with essential library services, such as cataloging and reference help, is to afford as much access to useful information as possible to each of these three constituencies [Congress, the U. government more broadly, and the public]."3 Despite this, however, Congress has dictated since 1952 that it has control and custody of CRS products and that those products may be released only by Congress. CRS-2) As CRS currently states on its report covers, "The Congressional Research Service works exclusively for the Congress, conducting research, analyzing legislation, and providing information at the request of committees, Members, and their staffs." Those who elect the legislators are being denied direct access to a major wealth of information that directly affects the decisions of those who legislate.Making certain types of CRS products and its websites widely available to the public would provide citizens with the type of high quality information necessary to actively and knowledgeably participate in public debate about current issues and the workings of our government.These products provide research and policy analyses including scientific, economic, and legislative analyses; background analyses; pro and con arguments; and legislative histories.4 CRS goes to great lengths to ensure that all sides of an issue are clearly presented and that its products are both simple and easy to understand, making these reports an invaluable asset to public debate.Recent CRS products include "Across-the-Board Tax Cuts: Economic Issues," "Afghanistan: Current Issues and U. Policy Concerns," "Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty Demarcation and Succession Agreements: Background and Issues," "Middle East: Attitudes Toward the United States," "Global Climate Change," and "Iraq: Divergent Views on Military Action." In addition to these products, current Members of Congress and their offices both in Washington and in their home districts have access to the CRS website and to CRS's Legislative Information Service (LIS) website.Should not be used for making links from Member or committee home page (since the public cannot access LIS).Links from Bill Summary & Status display to CRS reports and issue briefs related to a bill.


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