Did you know you don’t have direct access to reports prepared by the Congressional Research Service?
To get a CRS report, you either have to pay a private company or you can ask your congressman to obtain it.
Thing is, even the list of reports is not public. That is a direct barrier to media, watchdog groups and interested citizens.
An organization devoted to transparency at the CRS, Open CRS, puts the taxpayer funded research service in perspective:
The Congressional Research Service strongly believes that its sole purpose is to directly serve Congress and not the public. CRS views attempts to make available to the public reports that it creates as something other than its statutory authority to communicate with and for Congress. We disagree.
Note that the secrecy isn’t a matter of national security—the policy of obstruction applies to all reports.
Over a period of years, there were times when information was forthcoming.
Throughout the 1940s, the service then called the Legislative Reference Service, issued bulletins full of information about the federal government. The U.S. House and the Senate controlled by Democrats nixed the publication in 1951 by removing funding.
The same thing happened in the early 1990s. After 1970, the LRS was renamed the Congressional Research Service. The CRS published the Congressional Research Service Review; the public could purchase a subscription. Once again Congress zapped funding. Democrats controlled both the House and the Senate until 1995.
CRS gets taxpayer funding of more than $112 million; the service has 675 employees whose benefits and perks are also funded by the taxpayer.
CRS, according to a Wikipedia entry based on valid sources, also gets some funding from “charitable organizations.” The Wiki entry linked to a government report once online; now there’s a “page not found” message when you click.
Who provides the private funding CRS receives?
The Wiki entry also explains the firewall CRS maintains to keep the public out.
There is no good reason to keep taxpayers from having access to federal property they paid for if the material does not jeopardize national security. Maintaining secrecy on the development and justification for legislation is not compatible with government based on the power of the people nor with a free Republic.
The Republican controlled House of Representatives just released a report that should interest all taxpayers. The report details crime linked to “lax immigration policies.” Included in the data are figures on crimes committed by illegal aliens who are not technically immigrants.
(Commentary by Kay B. Day/July 31, 2012)