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CREW Recommends Updating House Information Rules

There are many excellent recommendations in the new report on improving transparency and accountability in the House of Representatives from CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington), the Sunlight Foundation, and the OpenGov Foundation.

Some that may be of particular interest to government information professionals include:

  • Another call to make Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports publicly available, and an interim recommendation that the House should should publish a list of all widely-distributed reports issued by CRS.

  • A recommendation that the House should list all reports to be made to Congress on a “dashboard” that indicates when a report was received.

  • The report notes that the House generates and receives tremendous amounts of information, but often is not clear what information is held by the House, who is responsible for it, and whether it can be made available to the public. It recommends that the House should undertake an audit of the documents or other information that it holds, who is responsible for the information, the format in which it is stored, and where and how it can be obtained by the public.

The report notes that The Joint Committee on the Library (JCL) and the Joint Committee on Printing (JCP) have met only once for 5 minutes in the 113th Congress, that they no longer have their own websites, and that, from a public perspective, they are effectively moribund. It recommends that the House explore ways to reinvigorate oversight of the Library of Congress and the Government Printing Office. It should particularly focus on making sure that Congress has sufficient capacity to effectively ensure that these agencies are properly performing their roles of making information available to the public, and that the oversight process in performed in a way that the public can be properly engaged.

It is an excellent report! Check it out!

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