Secrecy News

Social Media in Congress, and More from CRS

“In less than 20 years, the entire nature of Member-constituent communication has been transformed, perhaps more than in any other period in American history,” observes a new report from the Congressional Research Service.

Congressional offices now receive hundreds of millions of electronic communications from constituents each year, vastly more than they ever did using postal mail or other traditional forms of messaging. One result is a change in “the nature of [political] representation in the United States, as Members can more easily engage wider political and policy constituencies, in addition to their core interactions with their geographic constituencies,” CRS said.

See Social Media in Congress: The Impact of Electronic Media on Member Communications, May 26, 2016.

Other new and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service include the following.

Security Assistance and Cooperation: Shared Responsibility of the Departments of State and Defense, updated May 26, 2016

TPP Financial Services Data Flows, CRS Insight, June 3, 2016

India-U.S. Relations and the Visit of Prime Minister Modi, CRS Insight, June 6, 2016

FinCEN Seeks Shell-Company Transparency, CRS Legal Sidebar, June 7, 2016

A Retrospective of House Rules Changes Since the 110th Congress, updated June 7, 2016

Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA), updated June 6, 2016

Financial Aid for Students: Online Resources, updated June 3, 2016

Federal Inspectors General: History, Characteristics, and Recent Congressional Actions, updated June 2, 2016

Congress is poised to reject the budget request sought by the Congressional Research Service for the coming fiscal year, with foreseeable consequences.

“What would be the consequences of a flat budget?” asked CRS director Dr. Mary Mazanec at a March 1 hearing of the House Appropriations Committee.  “If CRS capacities are not maintained, gap areas will intensify. Right now we have a gap due to an unanticipated departure in Russian and Ukrainian foreign policy. In these areas, as gaps develop, we cannot always immediately backfill, which means it becomes a challenge for us to produce the highly analytical, nuanced work that you expect of us.”

“I can almost state with 100 percent assurance that timelines will increase, especially in the areas that are high volume: education, health care, defense, appropriations, and budget. Analysts will be challenged to update and maintain the currency of their reports.”

“And finally, one more thing. I don’t think we will be able to effectively leverage the vast amount of data that is currently being collected to better inform the work that you expect of us,” Dr. Mazanec testified.