House Appropriations Committee clears public access to CRS reports
Public access to the reports, which provide nonpartisan analysis of important policy issues before Congress, was most recently requested by a bipartisan group of 40 nonprofit organizations and 25 former CRS employees with a combined 570 years tenure at the agency. Civil society organizations have been requesting public access for 20 years.
“I spent 11 years at CRS as an analyst and manager, and this change is way overdue,” said Kevin Kosar, vice president for policy at the R Street Institute and a former analyst and manager at CRS. “I am very glad Congress has moved to end the inequitable access to these nonpartisan reports. The public has a right to read them, and CRS analysts need to be free from the gotcha-trap that current policy puts them in.”
While CRS reports often become publicly available when they are released by individual congressional offices to constituents or published as committee prints or in committee reports, there is no central repository for the reports. Instead, they are collected by private businesses that sell access to lobbyists and other insiders. The R Street Institute and Demand Progress publish more than 8,700 reports online at everycrsreport.com, at no cost for the public.
“After two decades of requests from the public, House appropriators have taken a major step toward increasing congressional transparency through release of Congressional Research Service reports to the public, thanks to the leadership of Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Kevin Yoder, R-Kan., and Ranking Member Tim Ryan, R-Ohio, and the persistent advocacy of Reps. Leonard Lance, R-N.J., and Mike Quigley, D-Ill.,” said Daniel Schuman, policy director at Demand Progress. “I am pleased they have now become equitably available to everyone so we all can be better informed in this era of increasing citizen activism and public engagement in the policymaking process.”