Sunday, April 01, 2007

U.S. Congressional Research Reports Harder To Obtain

For years, American open-government advocates have complained about the lack of direct access to reports prepared by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), the policy research arm of the U.S. Congress.

These reports are often very detailed overviews of a topic and the topics frequently touch upon international legal issues of interest to Canadian researchers.

Various non-governmental organizations, libraries and research groups have set up websites to archive CRS material and make it freely available to the general public.

Now, according to Secrecy News (Federation of American Scientists), it seems that CRS officials are trying to restrict access: from now on, CRS reports will not be distributed to "non-Congressionals" without prior approval from CRS officials.

Earlier Library Boy posts about the Congressional Research Service include:
  • Making It Easier to Locate CRS Reports (June 28, 2005): "A new website seeks to change that by bringing together nearly 8,000 reports from the Service. The reports are distributed now only to U.S. lawmakers. Created by the Center for Democracy and Technology, a Washington-based civil liberties group, the OpenCRS is a searchable, consolidated archive of several large CRS collections, including those compiled by the Federation of American Scientists, the National Council on Science and the Environment, the Thurgood Marshall Law Library/University of Maryland School of Law, the Franklin Pierce Law Center, and the National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism, which are among the several non-profit groups that over the years have tried to collect and post as many of these very valuable reports on their Web sites."
  • Congressional and Parliamentary Research Reports (September 24, 2006): "Each year CRS produces almost 1,000 new products, and over 4,000 updated or revised reports, however only a small number of these are made available to the public on the Internet. Although CRS does maintain an intranet for CRS reports (CRS Web) this network is only accessible by members of Congress, Congressional committees, and CRS sister agencies (e.g. GAO). Members of the public requiring access to these reports have traditionally had to ask their Representative in Congress for paper copies to be mailed to them or have had to purchase them through a third party..."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:25 pm


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