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Hearing on Congressional Research Service zeroes in on diversity issue

Rare look inside CRS at House Administration Committee

Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, said the Congressional Research Service should have a more diverse staff. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, said the Congressional Research Service should have a more diverse staff. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A rare public hearing on Thursday examining the Congressional Research Service revealed concerns about its lack of diversity in its leadership ranks, as members questioned its leader about hiring practices.

At Thursday’s House Administration Committee, Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., asked CRS Director Mary B. Mazanec about the staff closest to her, specifically if any were a person of color, which he defined as “African American, Latino, Asian American, Pacific Islander.” Mazanec said she had “about 12 direct reports,” and only one of them was a person of color.

Aguilar said that shows the CRS needs to do better at making its staff more diverse.

“Clearly it’s a work in progress. It’s not enough is what I make of it,” the California Democrat said when asked about the senior leadership diversity. “So, they need to redouble their efforts, recruit and retain a more diverse senior staff that’s reflective of the country we all represent.”

CRS supports Congress throughout the legislative process by providing expert legislative research and analysis that is objective.

“Diversity in the workforce is a top priority of mine,” Mazanec said. She noted that in 2009, 2013 and 2018, self-reported data that shows 28 percent of the staff identified themselves as being part of a minority group.

Mazanec added, “we have lost diversity at the most senior grades in the service.” She said it’s a high priority for them and the CRS is trying to identify actions to put in place to make sure applicant pools are diverse.

When asked by Rep. Marcia L. Fudge, D-Ohio, if the CRS has any people of color in senior leadership, Mazanec responded, “Yes, it depends on how you define color. If it’s African American, no.”

“I think that we should not have an agency or a department as involved in what we do every day as you are that has no person of color in your leadership,” Fudge said.

Mazanec said she would have to get back to Fudge with statistics on how many people of color CRS has among ranks of analysts and attorneys.

“It is very difficult for me to understand — as many young lawyers and people that are around this hill — there are not people that you can find,” Fudge said. “They call my office looking for jobs every day. So there is something that’s not quite right.”

There’s a lot of work to do regarding diversity, according to Rep. Susan A. Davis, D-Calif. She said she would like to see CRS come back to talk about the progress they make.

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