All Non-Confidential CRS Reports Should be Available Online

The public does not have access to a comprehensive database of non-confidential Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports. Recently, Demand Progress, American Enterprise Institute, and Free Government Information, and a coalition of 39 other organizations and 21 experts on Congress, including many CRS analysts, wrote to Representative Zoe Lofgren and Senator Amy Klobuchar, the Chair and Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on the Library, requesting they direct the Library of Congress to publish all non-confidential CRS reports online.

Members of Congress, staff, and the public use previous CRS reports to provide important context for current policy issues. While CRS is making some of its reports publicly available pursuant to law, it is resisting releasing other reports despite congressional encouragement. This issue can be easily fixed: CRS already maintains a digital archive of some non-public yet non-confidential reports and could easily publish them online. They should do so.

The current circumstances means that members of Congress and their staff are often unaware of reports that CRS has published. In addition, members of the public resort to paying for expensive databases to access some older reports, which defeats the purpose of Congress enacting a law in support of public access. We should benefit from this expenditure of taxpayer dollars so that everyone can see the non-partisan, expert analysis of issues relevant to policymakers.