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Future of CRS

Sunshine advocates say Congressional Research Service reports should be posted online, By Joseph Marks, NextGov (05/09/2011).

Speaking at a panel discussion on the Future of the Congressional Research Service (CRS), sponsored by the Sunlight Foundation, Mike Stern, a former House senior counsel, said that the legal justification for long-standing statutory language prohibiting CRS from making its reports available outside the halls of Congress has been effectively superseded by the Internet Age.

Project on Government Secrecy Director Steve Aftergood told Nextgov Monday that putting nonconfidential CRS reports online wouldn’t just increase government transparency, but also might press CRS analysts to take advantage of hyperlinks, Web graphics, embedded video and other innovative Web-based features.

“I think they haven’t quite figured out how to cope with the Internet Age,” Aftergood said of the organization referred to as Congress’ think tank. “In many respects they’re really stuck in the 1990s.”

The panels’ moderator, Daniel Schuman, noted that the CRS 2009 annual report described a pilot program that would allow some congressional committees to automatically post CRS reports containing certain search terms on their websites, but that the plan did was not adopted and the report has since been removed from the CRS website.

The entire 1.5 hour panel can be seen at http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/ResearchS

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