CRS Previews Public Release of its Reports

06.22.18 | 3 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

The Congressional Research Service said this week that it will begin publishing some of its non-confidential reports on a publicly accessible congressional website by September 18, as required by the Consolidated Appropriations Act that was signed into law last March 23.

“For the initial public release, the Library will make available in PDF format all of CRS’s R-series of ‘active’ reports that were published since the enactment date, as well as the Appropriations Status Table,” CRS said in a new memorandum for congressional staff.

The “R-series” refers to the primary CRS reports that have a report number beginning with R. It does not include CRS Insights, Legal Sidebars, or In Focus reports.

Over time, older R-series reports as well as some other product lines will be added to the public collection, CRS said.

“The Library and CRS are additionally committed to presenting the full inventory of reports appearing on CRS.gov on the public website as soon as is practicable (with a full migration targeted for completion by spring 2019). After the R-series reports are published, the Library will work to make other written products, such as In Focus products, available.”

The public website, which is not yet live, will be at www.congress.gov/crsreports. Update 09/18/18: The CRS public portal is now here: https://crsreports.congress.gov/.

The official public versions of the CRS reports will be lightly redacted to exclude contact information for the CRS authors.

See Public Release of CRS Reports: FAQ for Congressional Staff, June 2018.

The pending policy change applies only to non-confidential CRS reports. Research projects that are performed for individual offices or on a confidential basis will not be posted on the public website.

In recent report language, the Senate Appropriations Committee directed CRS to perform outreach “to ensure that the Congressional community is aware that… longstanding confidentiality assurances will continue unchanged.”

The new FAQ fulfills that directive with a statement that “The law does not change the mission or focus of CRS. The law does not affect the confidentiality of congressional requests or responses (such as confidential memoranda). It does not allow congressional requests or confidential responses to be made available to the public.”

Since with few exceptions most non-confidential CRS reports are already in the public domain, the new policy is somewhat anti-climactic at this point. But it is fitting and proper that CRS reports should also be available on a congressional website.

Meanwhile, new and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service that have not yet been officially disclosed include the following.

Recent Violent Crime Trends in the United States, June 20, 2018

Indexing Capital Gains Taxes for Inflation, June 18, 2018

Renewable Energy R&D Funding History: A Comparison with Funding for Nuclear Energy, Fossil Energy, Energy Efficiency, and Electric Systems R&D, updated June 18, 2018

Lebanon, updated June 19, 2018

Economic and Fiscal Conditions in the U.S. Virgin Islands, June 20, 2018

The Purple Heart: Background and Issues for Congress, updated June 21, 2018

Military Enjoined from Transferring American ISIS Suspect to Foreign Country–at Least for NowCRS Legal Sidebar, June 20, 2018