Open Data

Letter: R Street and FreedomWorks urge USTR negotiators, Congress to consider digital objectives during NAFTA negotiations

Ambassador Lighthizer, Chairmen Brady and Hatch, and Ranking Members Neal and Wyden, Since its inception, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has been an unqualified bipartisan success. Given …

PACER might be the government’s worst website

The following is a guest post by Tom Lee, former chief technology officer for the Sunlight Foundation. When hackers are able to steal your money, it’s usually safe to …

The secret roadmap of government spending

The following op-ed was co-authored by Daniel Schuman, policy director at Demand Progress. The novelty song “Istanbul, not Constantinople"—written on the 500th anniversary of the fall of the eponymous …

Kosar talks CRS reports on FedSoc podcast

In episode 2 of the Federal Society's Necessary & Proper podcast, the R Street Institute's Kevin Kosar discusses the Congressional Research Service, a nonpartisan government think tank in …

House legislative branch appropriators will vote tomorrow on legislation to release all non-confidential CRS Reports to the public

WASHINGTON (June 22, 2017) – The House Appropriations Committee announced today that its Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee will vote tomorrow to allow public access to all nonconfidential Congressional Research Service reports as …

LETTER: Oppose California AB 1455

Dear Assemblyman Bocanegra, The R Street Institute must regretfully oppose your bill, A.B. 1455.  R Street is a Washington, D.C.-based think tank with offices in Sacramento. R Street is …

OPEN Government Data Act moves to Senate floor after markup

Legislation requiring federal agencies to publish their data online in a searchable, nonproprietary, machine-readable format has been cleared for the Senate following a May 17 markup by the …

Testimony: Senate Subcommittee on Legislative Branch Appropriations

Chairman Lankford, Ranking Member Murphy, and Members of the Committee: Thank you for considering my written testimony. My name is Kevin Kosar, and I am vice president of policy …

Letter: Support public access to legislative information

Dear members of the subcommittee: The following is a letter addressed to the chairmen and ranking members of the Joint Committee on the Library; the House and Senate legislative …

CRS should stop fighting access to its own reports

The Congressional Research Service plays an essential role in policymaking and oversight. It makes Congress smarter about issues and teaches new legislators how to legislate. I would not …

Congressmen reintroduce bill to make CRS reports public

The Government Publishing Office would be required to make Congressional Research Service reports publicly accessible over the internet, under legislation reintroduced last week by Reps. Leonard Lance, R-N.J., …

Three years in, what does the DATA Act tell us about agency spending?

Trying to figure out exactly how much money the federal government spends long has been an exercise in futility for those few brave souls who endeavor to try …

Kosar testifies to House Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee on CRS reports

On May 3, 2017, R Street's vice president of policy Kevin Kosar testifies before the Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee in support of making Congressional Research Service reports available …

Testimony to House Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee on CRS reports

Dear Chairman Yoder, Ranking Member Ryan and Members of the Committee: On behalf of 25 former employees of the Congressional Research Service (CRS) with a collective 570 years of …

San Clemente’s antics could make for a dark comedy

Between binge-watching some Coen Brothers’ dark comedies, I’ve been perusing videos of state legislative hearings and city council meetings. The acting’s not as good in the political proceedings, …

Transparency initiative shaped nature of road-tax debate

It’s no secret that the state’s legislative leadership is less than thrilled about an open-government initiative that California voters passed in the November election, and are doing what …

More than 80 orgs to Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs: Pass the OPEN Government Data Act

Dear Chairman Johnson and Ranking Member McCaskill, We, the undersigned businesses, industry groups, civil society organizations, and transparency advocates, write to express our strong support for the bipartisan Open, Permanent, …

More than 80 orgs to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform: Pass the OPEN Government Data Act

Dear Chairman Chaffetz and Ranking Member Cummings, We, the undersigned businesses, industry groups, civil society organizations, and transparency advocates, write to express our strong support for the bipartisan Open, Permanent, …

ACLU gives needed rebuke to OC’s meetings policy

City governments, police departments and county boards of supervisors have an enduringly difficult time understanding the proper order of things. It’s clichéd, but true. We don’t work for …

Promoting transparency and stakeholder engagement in an era of complex government

It is a well-known tenet of democracy that citizens must have access to information about the government’s activities, as well as the means by which to interact with …

California high court says public records are public, even on a private email

Earlier this month, the California Supreme Court unanimously overturned an appeals court decision that had provided a large loophole in the state’s public-records act. The case, City of San Jose …

Does Congress have the technology it needs to govern?

During its first two centuries of operations, Congress conducted business the old fashion way: with paper and pencil and face-to-face. Over the past 25 years, however, the legislative …

R Street Panel: The expertise gap between Silicon Valley and Washington

It shouldn't be surprising that our elected representatives don't always understand new technology. Rather than being early adopters, most of them are at least a decade behind the …

The Twitter presidency

The following op-ed was co-authored by R Street Technology Policy Fellow Sasha Moss. Franklin D. Roosevelt was famous for his “fireside chats” — evening radio addresses that helped …

Join us tonight for Le Hackie Awards

DC Legal Hackers hosts its third annual Le Hackie Awards tonight, an event to honor companies, organizations, legal hackers and the best legal hacks of 2016. For those not …

CBO confirms OPEN Government Data Act won’t cost taxpayers

The bicameral, bipartisan Open Public Electronic and Necessary ("OPEN") Government Data Act will not cost taxpayers a dime, according to new scoring analysis from the Congressional Budget Office. The …

Five bad arguments against public access to CRS reports

This week the progressive organization Demand Progress, along with the Congressional Data Coalition, launched EveryCRSReport.com. This new project site makes available, with the help of friendly Congressional offices, …

House launches a public-facing phone directory for all staff

As promised at the 2016 Legislative Data and Transparency Conference, the House of Representatives has launched a public-facing phone directory for all its staff. This is a tremendously useful tool. It …

Conservatives shoot selves in foot by obstructing librarian of Congress vote

President Barack Obama recently nominated Carla Hayden – a career professional library administrator – to serve as the retiring James Billington's successor as head of the Library of …

The Library of Congress needs a professional librarian, not a ‘scholar-in-chief’

In the months following incumbent Librarian of Congress James Billington's retirement, some conservatives have coalesced around the idea that the next person to head the library ought to …

California lawmakers mobilize to weaken transparency initiative

From Reason: Almost everyone has some idea for fixing whatever is wrong in Sacramento, ranging from new campaign spending limits to a requirement that legislators wear NASCAR-style sponsor logos. …

Secrecy lobby runs amok at State Capitol

Last week, I reported on an ominous development in the California Capitol — an effort to criminalize a political point of view. Democratic leaders authored a bill that …

Some Ag Committee members draw millions in farm subsidies

Who benefits from farm subsidies? R Street long has been critical of our federal farm-support system, a massive boondoggle that disproportionately funnels taxpayer dollars to wealthy agribusinesses rather …

House spending data show where the staff are

As DemandProgress' Daniel Schuman reports, the U.S. House just began publishing its spending reports online as data. The House's "Statements of Disbursement," which show how much money Congress spends on its …

Some American values may be dimming, but transparency continues to shine bright

Attending a Memorial Day ceremony in my little city yesterday, I couldn’t help but wonder what happened all of the sudden to make it palatable for so many …

Bipartisan coalition to Rules Committee: Recommend to Senate that Dr. Carla Hayden be confirmed as Librarian of Congress

Dear Chairman Blunt, Ranking Member Schumer and Members of the Committee: We are organizations, businesses, libraries, coalitions, and associations from across the political spectrum and around the country that …

Letter to Senate Rules Committee on public access to CRS reports

Dear Chairman Blunt and Ranking Member Schumer: We write to urge the Committee on Rules and Administration to schedule a markup of the Equal Access to Congressional Research Service …

Now you can see what reports have been published by the Congressional Research Service

Did you know the Congressional Research Service has published reports on the federal defense budget, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamp) benefits, changes to hemp-growing restrictions and porcine …

Congressional Data Coalition testimony to House Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee

Dear Chairman Graves, Ranking Member Wasserman Schultz, and Representatives Amodei, Rigell, Jenkins, Palazzo, Farr, and McCollum: Thank you for the opportunity to submit testimony on legislative branch funding priorities …

Coalition supports Equal Access to Congressional Research Service Reports Act

As organizations committed to the availability of information about our government and its transparency, we write to express our support for the Equal Access to Congressional Research Service …

New bill would open CRS reports to the public

According to one assessment, some 27,000 copies of Congressional Research Service reports are scattered about the Internet. However, there is no one website where the public can find …

Free-market groups argue to make CRS reports public

Dear Chairman Miller, Chairman Blunt and Vice Chairman Harper, As a coalition of 12 conservative, free-market organizations we urge you to expand public access to Congressional Research Service (CRS) …

Kosar talks CRS with Grover Norquist

R Street Governance Project Director Kevin Kosar sat down with Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform to discuss the Congressional Research Service and why its taxpayer-funded reports should be …

Seven years ago today, WikiLeaks published 6,700 CRS reports…and nobody was hurt

Feb. 8, 2009 began like any other Sunday for me. I was up early taking care of a young child, gulping coffee and scanning the news. The New …

Will the needless secrecy surrounding CRS reports end this year?

  Not quite a year back, Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., sought to do a little good for the American public. He offered an amendment to an appropriations bill that …

Letter to President Obama on OMB open-government plan

Dear Mr. President: We, the undersigned organizations, are concerned about the failure of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to comply fully with a presidential memorandum on transparency …

Outsourcing oversight through open government data

Congress has a big problem when it comes to oversight. The federal government has grown vastly larger over the past century, but Congress has done little to empower …

Congress should publish Statutes-at-Large as open data

Two years ago, Congress began publishing the U.S. Code in the XML markup language, a remarkably versatile format that can be read both by people and by machines. …

Where taxpayers pay ($100 million a year) but interest groups benefit

It seemed like a silly question, but as the new guy, I was obliged to ask: “Can I e-mail a copy of my report to my mother?” Mom had …

15 reasons CRS reports should be public

I worked at the Congressional Research Service for 11 years as an analyst and manager. I greatly enjoyed supplying congressional staff, committees, and members of Congress with nonpartisan …

Coalition letter supporting Leahy-Franken amendment to CISA

Dear Senator, We, the undersigned open-government, civil-liberty and privacy groups, write in opposition to the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act ("CISA") and to urge passage of the proposed amendments from …

Kosar talks transparency in CRS reports

R Street Governance Project Director Kevin Kosar joined a panel with former U.S. Chris Shays, R-Conn.; Prue Adler, associate executive director of the Association of Research Libraries; and Stan Brand, a …

GAO opens up about secret reports

Most of the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s reports are freely available to the public via GAO.gov. For decades, however, the agency has kept a minority of these reports …

R Street and Third Way urge declassification of electronic surveillance bill records

Dear Chairman Burr, Chairman Nunes, Ranking Member Feinstein & Ranking Member Schiff, As you well know, Congress plays a vital role in overseeing our nation’s intelligence programs. Beginning in …

Join us for a reception following the Congressional Hackathon

Join the Congressional Data Coalition, the R Street Institute, Demand Progress and the OpenGov Foundation for a reception at Google D.C. following the Congressional Hackathon. WHEN: Friday, Oct. 23, at 5:30 …

Call for public access to Congressional Research Service reports

We write in support of expanded public access to Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports. Longstanding congressional policy allows members and committees to use their websites to disseminate CRS …

House appropriators look at legislative branch transparency

At last week’s full committee markup of the legislative branch appropriations bill, Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., offered an amendment that set the stage for more transparency around Congressional …

Legislative project ideas for coders and noncoders

I thought it would be useful to identify legislative data projects in advance of the House's annual Legislative Data and Transparency Conference and #Hack4Congress, a congressional hackathon the …

It’s time for open data in insurance

The National Association of Police Organizations is a non-profit group that represents and serves police officers, police unions and local police associations. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners …

Five reasons why you can’t judge a Congress by counting laws

For the past six weeks, the media has bid a raucous good riddance to the 113th Congress. They have trashed it for its hyper-partisanship, for shutting down the …

Why I left the Congressional Research Service

The attached piece originally appeared in the January/February 20 edition of Washington Monthly. If there’s one event that epitomizes why I quit my job last October as a researcher …

Federal snow storm aid, self-government and CRS reports

The Federation of American Scientists recently posted a copy of a report titled, “Major Disaster Declarations for Snow Assistance and Severe Winter Storms: An Overview.” The document was …

Collection of CRS reports released to the public

Something rare has occurred---a collection of reports authored by the Congressional Research Service has been published and made freely available to the public. The 500-page volume, titled “The …

R Street welcomes Kevin Kosar as senior fellow and governance project director

WASHINGTON (October 6, 2014) - The R Street Institute is pleased to announce the appointment of Kevin Kosar as senior fellow and governance project director. Kosar comes to …

Rep. Royce takes his NAIC questions to Treasury

Dissatisfied with the answers he’s received from the group itself, U.S. Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., is turning to Federal Insurance Office Director Michael McRaith with a request that …

Congressman asks: ‘what exactly IS the NAIC?’

It’s a fair question, and one I’ve asked myself on a number of occasions. The question keeps coming up, in part, because the NAIC keeps changing its answer. The …

The Insurance Data Protection Act’s hidden sop to the NAIC

I’ve been publicly critical of the Insurance Data Protection Act, which was endorsed yesterday by a 7-5 tally of the House Financial Services Committee’s insurance subcommittee. It’s been interesting …

November 2011 comments to Federal Insurance Office

These comments were submitted in November 2011 by R Street President Eli Lehrer and Public Affairs Director R.J. Lehmann to the U.S. Treasury Department's Federal Insurance Office in response …

FIRE Podcast- R.J. Lehmann: Capitol Hill update

[podcast]/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/FIRE111711.mp3[/podcast] In this week’s edition of the FIRE Podcast, I offer updates on major insurance issues brewing on Capitol Hill, including delays in getting a Senate floor vote on …

FIO, FOIA and a free market in insurance data

In the United States, publicly traded companies must file quarterly financial statements with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which the SEC makes available to the public through their …

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