Update on Efforts to Get Free, Online, Public Access to CRS Reports

There were several notable occurences in the last few days in our continuing campaign to win free public access to Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports:

  • Almost 40 organizations signed onto a letter to Chairman Lieberman and Ranking Member Collins of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Reform Committee asking that they quickly reintroduce legistlation to authorize and promote the public distribution of reports that are published by the CRS. During the 11th Congress, Senator Lieberman and Collins (along with four other Senators) cosponsored S.Res. 118, a resolution directing the Sergeant at Arms in the Senate to make certain CRS reports available to the public online. 
  • A similar letter was also sent to Chairman Issa and Ranking Member Cummings of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
  • Additionally, the organizations signed on to a letter urging members of the House and Senate Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee to drop language barring CRS from using any funds to make reports available to the public from future spending bills. Eliminating the provision will not make CRS reports available, but it will remove a legislative roadblock block that currently frustrates efforts to promote the authorized publication of these reports. See a generic version of the letter here.
  • We also received a response from the Librarian of Congress, Dr. James Billington, to our request to appoint a new CRS Director who will work with Congress to provide free, online, public access to CRS reports. Unfortunately, Dr. Billington echoes many of statements for denying public access to CRS reports made by the former CRS Director, Daniel Mullhollan, and does not seem to be willing to support any policy change without direct intervention from Congress.

We expect there to be several more opportunities for individuals and organizations to participate in the campaign throughout the year.

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