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CRS Reports to the People!

Now that a new administration will be coming into office soon, it is more important than ever to encourage our Government to make Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports publicly accessible online. Here at FGI, the topic of CRS Reports has been written about often, but I was inspired to create this blog post and take action after seeing Starr Hoffman’s DLC conference presentation last week (click on “Search Document” and enter “Starr Hoffman”. Her PowerPoint, “Encouraging An Informed Citizenry” will come up as a PDF to download).

Starr is responsible for maintaining University of North Texas’s Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports Archive. In her presentation, she gives tips for writing to Congressmen and lists some past legislative efforts (Bills that never passed both houses of Congress) to make CRS Reports publicly accessible. I have gathered some other Bills, as well as all the contact information for the sponsoring Congressmen and have included them in my Delicious.com “CRS” tag as well as in this list:

1998 H.R. 3131, S. 1578
1999 H.R. 654, S. 393
2000 H.R. 4582
2001 S. Res. 21
2003 H.R. 3630, S. Res. 54
2007 H.R. 2545, S. Res. 401

Senator John McCain
Introduced S. 1578, S. 393, S.Res. 21, S. Res. 54, & co-sponsored S. Res. 401
Senator Mike Enzi
Co-sponsored S. 393
Senator Leahy
Co-sponsored S. 393, S. Res. 21, S. Res. 54, and S. Res. 401.
Senator Tom Coburn
H.R. 4582 co-sponsor when he was in the House.
Senator Jim DeMint
Introduced H.R. 4582 when he was in the House.
Senator Joe Lieberman
Introduced S. Res. 401 and co-sponsored S. Res. 21 and S. Res. 54
Senator Tom Harkin
Co-sponsored S. Res. 54 and S. Res. 401
Senator Susan M. Collins
Co-sponsored S. Res. 401
Senator John Cornyn
Co-sponsored S. Res. 401

Congressman David Price
Co-sponsor for H.R. 3131, H.R. 654, H.R. 3630, and H.R. 2545
Congressman John Campbell
Co-sponsored H.R. 654
Congressman Jay Inslee
Co-sponsored H.R. 3630 and H.R. 2545

And you can find and contact your local Senator and your Representatives too.

James A. Jacobs did a Google search this past June for “Received through the CRS Web” OR “CRS Report for Congress” combined with site:house.gov and then again for site:senate.gov and got around 600 hits with each. For example, here are some domains he found that you can search within for CRS Reports or to search for those in Congress who may support public access to CRS Reports: bartlett.house.gov, holt.house.gov, radanovich.house.gov, weldon.house.gov, bennelson.senate.gov, carper.senate.gov, lugar.senate.gov, murray.senate.gov, etc.

For more information on CRS Report legislation efforts, visit this site which contains a “Campaign for Online Access” section.

Spread the word about this post and good luck in writing to your Congressmen! If you have other ideas, please share them in the comments.

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8 Comments

  1. blakeley says:

    Now that’s quite an image…shopping bags stuffed with reports. *shakes head* I’m sick of the wild goose chase for these reports, which is why I’m writing a very personalized letter to each Senator and Congressmen in the above list (and my local Louisiana Senators and Congressmen too) My goal is finish by January 19th!

  2. jrjacobs says:

    Starr and UNT are doing great work on digital government information. I wonder how many of those CRS reports posted to Congresspeople’s Web sites are actually getting into UNT’s CRS Report Archive or into OpenCRS.com? I’m sure some of them get into those subject-focused sites like FAS (national security, foreign policy, etc), or the First Amendment Center (…er…first amendment issues :-) ), but short of actually being FDLP depository items (which would be AWESOME!) I don’t see any process whereby they all get out to the public. I heard from our LexisNexis Rep that there’s actually someone who goes to CRS periodically and carries back to LN shopping bags stuffed with reports. Could CRS at least make public their database of CRS report requests and published titles? Is that so much to ask?!

  3. jrjacobs says:

    also FYI,– and not to take anything away from Starr and UNT — I’m running an archive-it collection (which harvests Web sites) of 14 sites that post frequent CRS reports like UNT, OpenCRS… Perhaps Starr can use the harvested documents to fill in gaps in their collections. Starr’s doing way more in terms of metadata and abstracting than I could hope to do, and that’s a great thing! If anyone else feels the need, please catalog anything you find in the archive-it CRS collection. Those are permanent urls!

  4. blakeley says:

    I bookmarked your page, James. I’m attending to the Archive-It webinar tomorrow afternoon and I’m very excited!

  5. jrjacobs says:

    What a great project Rebecca. I hope you’ll post sample letters to FGI as well as responses form your local Senators and Congresspeople. Your energy will hopefully be contagious!

  6. blakeley says:

    Yes! I will be happy to post letters and responses. I am glad you gave me the go ahead to do that. ;-) Keep an eye out for them!

  7. blakeley says:

    I’ve been getting phone calls (related to CRS and other letters I’ve written to him about H.R. 801, etc.) from my local Congressman Boustany’s office rather than canned email messages. His assistant thanked me for the information and assured me that they will keep it in mind, and told me to contact them anytime I need a certain CRS Report.

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