CRS Publishes Some of its Reports, With Promises of More to Come

A subset of current CRS reports was published online by the Library of Congress on Tuesday. While federal law mandated the Library publish by September 18 any non-confidential final written work product of CRS containing research or analysis in any format that is available for general congressional access and that was published after the date of enactment of the legislation on the CRS Congressional Intranet, CRS published only the R series reports, totalling in the low six hundreds. As longtime CRS watcher and report publisher Steven Aftergood noted, “other CRS product lines — including CRS In Focus, CRS Insight, and CRS Legal Sidebar — are not currently available through the public portal.”

The Librarian of Congress implicitly addressed this gap in her blogpost, writing “we worked closely with Congress to make sure that we had a mutual understanding of the law’s requirements,” hinting at a behind-the-scenes agreement with appropriators. It could also be a response to criticism leveled by us (with R Street and GovTrack) concerning problems in the Library’s implementation plan.

News reports in Roll Call, the Washington Times, and FedScoop had a more complete discussion, describing the apparent discrepancy between the law’s requirements and the Library’s slow-roll publication process that will extend at least into the middle of next year.

We note that the Library is publishing the names of the authors, and more importantly, the mere fact of official publication means the disagreement is now over the extent of what the Library publishes and how they do it, not whether they do so. We are still troubled that the Library is not publishing the documents at text/html files, which limits the ability to use the information.

— We will continue to publish all non-confidential widely-distributed reports at EveryCRSReport, which has approximately 14,500 reports. Federal News Radio’s Tom Temin has a good, nuanced commentary on letting the light shine in.

Written by Daniel Schuman