Campus Notebook: Groups Call on CRS to Make Reports Public

Posted April 6, 2011 at 6:28pm

Updated: 1 p.m.

More than 35 groups representing journalists, open-government activists and academics have co-signed a letter pushing Congress to allow the Congressional Research Service to release its nonconfidential reports to the public.

In letters to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and both chambers’ Appropriations subcommittees on the legislative branch, the groups ask that Congress “untie the hands” of the CRS.

Calling the reports that Congress’ research arm prepares at Members’ request a “valuable, non-partisan resource,” the groups ask Congress to strip from legislative branch spending bills language restricting the CRS from spending funds to make its products publicly available.

“This archaic provision no longer makes practical sense,” the groups write. “It runs counter to the principles of government openness and transparency. And its original purpose is undercut by the fact that many CRS products are already available to the public” through commercial vendors. CQ Roll Call is among the companies that sell CRS reports.

Major newspapers have cited the CRS 779 times over the past two years, the letter states, while the Supreme Court has cited it 34 times.

The groups include the Sunlight Foundation, the Center for Responsive Politics, the Society of Professional Journalists and the Center for Fiscal Accountability.

Prepare for Relaunch

The new will go live on April 25, according to a spokeswoman for the House Technology Operations Team.

The site is being redesigned to make it more user-friendly. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) leads the initiative, which is also looking at other ways to bring more technology to the House.

The site will have a public beta launch April 18 at It will include a public survey, according to Chaffetz spokeswoman Alisia Essig.

The redesigned site will officially replace the old at on April 25.

Please send Campus Notebook tips here.