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EveryCRSReport.com launches. Public cheers. Congressional privilege intact

OMG I am so excited. This morning, Daniel Schuman and the fine folks at DemandProgress announced the launch of EveryCRSReport.com, a new website with 8,200 CRS reports from the Library of Congress’ Congressional Research Service (CRS), and more coming.

This is so awesome because CRS reports, written by experts in “Congress’ Think Tank,” have long been NOT available to the public unless a person contacted her member of Congress and *asked* for a report. See the problem here? Government reports — which are legally in the PUBLIC DOMAIN! — NOT available to the public, and one would need to know about the existence of a report in order to ask for the report. CRAZY!

This has been a long time in coming. Librarians and open government groups have been advocating for the public release of CRS reports for at least as long as I’ve been a librarian (15+ years) and likely longer. Change *does* come, but sometimes it happens in a geological timeframe.

For more, see Daniel’s post “Why I Came To Believe CRS Reports Should be Publicly Available (and Built a Website to Make it….” Congratulations and THANK YOU Daniel!

Here are the highlights:

On the website:

  • 8,200 reports
  • Search + the ability to filter reports by topic
  • Automatic updates through RSS feeds
  • Freshness ratings, which say how much a report changed when it was updated
  • The ability to view reports on your mobile device
  • Bulk download of all the reports
  • All the code behind the site (build your own!)
  • For each report, we:
    • Redacted the author’s name, email, and phone number, except in a tiny subset of reports
    • Explained the report is not copyrighted and its purpose is to inform Congress

oday my organization, in concert with others, is published 8,200 CRS reports on a new
website, EveryCRSReport.com. We are not the first organization to publish CRS reports. Many others have done so. Nor are we the first to advocate for public access. We’re part of a huge coalition including other former CRS employees. But I think we are the first to publish just about all the (non-confidential) reports currently available to members of Congress, in concert with a bipartisan pair of members who are providing the reports to us, and with a method to keep on doing so.We have tried to address CRS’s concerns. We redacted the contact information for the people who wrote the reports. We added information about why the reports are written and that they’re not subject to copyright. And we added a few nice bells and whistles to the website, such as letting you know how much a report has changed when it’s been revised.We think Congress as an institution should publish the reports. We support bicameral, bipartisan legislation to do so. And we hope that our website will help show the way forward.

via Why I Came To Believe CRS Reports Should be Publicly Available (and Built a Website to Make it… – Medium.

CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


3 Comments

    • Hi Erik. There are several Congressmen and Senators who’ve been supportive of public access to CRS reports in the past, but the site and Daniel’s post doesn’t mention who they are in this instance. If I hear anything, I’ll let FGI know.

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