Letter: Expand public access to Congressional Research Service reports

[Apparently this letter was taken offline soon after it was posted. This is the version in the Google cache.] 

“Dear Chairman Harper, Chairman Shelby, Chairman Yoder, Chairman Lankford, Ranking Member Brady, Ranking Member Klobuchar, Ranking Member Ryan, and Ranking Member Murphy:

We write in support of expanded public access to Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports. Longstanding congressional policy allows Members and committees to use their websites to disseminate CRS products to the public, although CRS itself may not engage in direct public dissemination. This results in a disheartening inequity: insiders with Capitol Hill connections can easily obtain CRS reports from any of the 20,000 congressional staffers and well-resourced groups can pay for access from subscription services. However, members of the public can access only a small subset of CRS reports that are intermittently posted on an assortment of not-for-profit websites. Now is the time for a systematic solution that provides timely, comprehensive free public access to and preservation of non-confidential reports while protecting confidential communications between CRS and Members and committees of Congress.

CRS reports—not to be confused with confidential CRS memoranda and other products—play a critical role in our legislative process by informing lawmakers and staff about the important issues of the day. The public should have the same access to information. …

Taxpayers provide more than $100 million annually in support of CRS, and yet members of the public often must look to private companies for consistent access to CRS reports. Some citizens are priced out of these services, resulting in inequitable access to information about government activity that is produced at public expense….”

[Signed by 42 organizations and 47 individuals.]