Home » post » How Congress’s dysfunction has degraded the CRS

Our mission

Free Government Information (FGI) is a place for initiating dialogue and building consensus among the various players (libraries, government agencies, non-profit organizations, researchers, journalists, etc.) who have a stake in the preservation of and perpetual free access to government information. FGI promotes free government information through collaboration, education, advocacy and research.

How Congress’s dysfunction has degraded the CRS

Here is a fascinating story about “How Congress’s dysfunction has degraded its own in-house think tank,” told by Kevin Kosar, an analyst who quit his job last October as a researcher at the Congressional Research Service.

Self-inflating, score-settling tell-alls are a dime a dozen in this town. This article is not one of them. I wrote this piece because I want more people in Congress and outside to appreciate how important the CRS is to good governance. My experience at the CRS also provides a window on the dysfunction currently afflicting Congress.

Kosar provides a little history of CRS (100 years old this year!) and some insights into its current state (staff cuts, and increasing demands to provide simple reference service for Congress instead of in depth analysis of issues). He begins with this story:

[I got] a call was from a smart congressional staffer with a law degree. Confessing some embarrassment, he asked if, as the CRS’s resident expert on the U.S. Postal Service, I could help him and his congressman boss respond to a constituent. The constituent wanted to know why the USPS was “stockpiling ammunition.” The staffer forwarded the constituent’s email, which had links to various blogs warning that the USPS was arming itself to the teeth, perhaps preparing for an assault on America.

Hat tip to Daniel Schuman, Policy Director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).

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

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.