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. Continue reading “CRS Publishes Some of its Reports, With Promises of More to Come”

Coming Soon: A Unified Congressional Meetings Calendar

Unnoticed elsewhere but celebrated here, the Library of Congress must update its website to include a unified calendar for Senate and House of Representatives committee hearings and markups. The deadline is 90 days after enactment of the Legislative Branch Appropriations bill, which was on September 21, which means it must be up by Friday, December 21st.

Continue reading “Coming Soon: A Unified Congressional Meetings Calendar”

Finally, The Constitution (Annotated) In Your Virtual Pocket

CONAN

On the 231st anniversary of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention signing the U.S. Constitution, we’re pleased to share the good news that Cornell’s Legal Information Institute (LII) will today publish Congress’s legal treatise that explains how the Supreme Court interprets the Constitution.

The treatise, known as the Constitution Annotated, is prepared by the Library of Congress’s Congressional Research Service and is published by the Government Publishing Office. Unfortunately, they do this poorly, as we describe below. For nine years we’ve asked the Library of Congress to do better, and since they have not answered those calls, Cornell’s LII has stepped up to the plate. Continue reading “Finally, The Constitution (Annotated) In Your Virtual Pocket”

Plan for Publishing CRS Reports Falls Short

In March, new legislation from Congress required the Library of Congress publish all non-confidential Congressional Research Service reports online by September 19th of this year. That deadline is rapidly approaching and while congressional and civil society concerns about the library’s implementation plan remain unaddressed, the Librarian of Congress, Dr. Hayden, declined a direct request from Rep. Lofgren for the Librarian to meet with civil society about improving the website. Continue reading “Plan for Publishing CRS Reports Falls Short”

Library Plan to Publish CRS Reports Falls Short of the Law, Is Unduly Expensive

Civil society, students, librarians, and the general public were elated when Congress decided to make the non-confidential non-partisan reports issued by the Congressional Research Service publicly available. These reports are often referred to as the gold standard for information concerning the issues before Congress.

We have obtained the Library of Congress’s implementation plan to make CRS reports available to the public, as required by 2018 Omnibus Appropriations Law. Unfortunately, it does not comport with the law or best practices for creating websites and is unusually expensive.

Today we release the Library’s May 22, 2018, CRS website implementation plan and civil society’s June 6, 2018 memo that responds to that plan. We hope that in doing so we will bring to the surface some of the problems with the CRS reports website’s proposed implementation so they can be fixed in time for the statutory deadline. (The Federation of American Scientists published on Friday a memo to congressional staff about the Library’s plans, but this is different from the implementation plan.) Continue reading “Library Plan to Publish CRS Reports Falls Short of the Law, Is Unduly Expensive”

Happy Birthday, U.S. Constitution. Can We Talk about the Constitution Annotated?

Yesterday was the 230th birthday of the U.S. Constitution, signed at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia on September 17, 1787. More than a hundred years ago, Congress ordered its Library to publish an annotated Constitution that explains that important document. Each edition, starting in 1913, records how our founding document has been interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court, with new print volumes published each decade and updates published every two years. Continue reading “Happy Birthday, U.S. Constitution. Can We Talk about the Constitution Annotated?”