A Resolution on Internet Access to CRS Reports

12.12.07 | 2 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

A bipartisan resolution to provide online public access to Congressional Research Service reports was introduced in the Senate yesterday.

“The Sergeant-at-Arms of the Senate, in consultation with the Director of the Congressional Research Service, shall make available through a centralized electronic system, for purposes of access and retrieval by the public … all information described in paragraph (2) that is available through the Congressional Research Service website,” the Resolution states.

Exemptions from disclosure are included for copyrighted and personal information, and for reports that are prepared confidentially for an individual member or committee.

The resolution, S. Res. 401, was jointly introduced by Senators Joe Lieberman, John McCain, Susan Collins, Patrick Leahy, John Cornyn and Tom Harkin.

The Legislative Branch must “increase its transparency and expand its interactive relationship with the public,” said Sen. Lieberman (pdf) yesterday.

“In this spirit, Senators McCain, Collins and I are introducing today legislation to require the Congressional Research Service to make its extremely valuable reports public. No method currently exists for the public to access them quickly and easily. As a result, many businesses collect the reports and sell them to paying customers. Our bill would allow members and Committees to easily post all CRS reports on their websites to anyone with internet access,” Sen. Lieberman said.

This arguably overstates the case on several points — “extremely valuable,” “no method,” and “many businesses.” And similar legislative initiatives have proved fruitless in the past. But this one may fare better, particularly since it does not appear to require coordination with the House of Representatives.