Friday, March 30, 2007

Help make CRS reports open to all

Seventeen partners in the OpenTheGovernment.org coalition and others sent letters on Wednesday,Ww164765_2 March 28, to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and to the members of the House Administration Committee and the Senate Rules Committee urging action to ensure no-fee online public access to all CRS (Congressional Research Service) reports.  The public deserves free, fast online access to CRS reports that cost taxpayers $100 million annually, the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) and OpenTheGovernment.org said in letters to House Speaker Pelosi and other Hill leaders. CRS reports have "never been made available in a consistent way to members of the public," the letters said. Lawmakers can give reports to constituents on request -- a "slow, unreliable process," and of little use since the public doesn't know what CRS publishes, groups said. CRS recently tightened curbs on how researchers share public information and who has access to information, they said. It would be a "trivial expense" for the Library of Congress to increase capacity and add public access to the password-protected CRS database Congress uses. Private companies sell the reports, and CDT's OpenCRS.com collects reports from members of Congress. They have been downloaded 3.5 million times -- but only making all reports searchable online will "sate those demands and help produce a better-informed electorate," the letters said. Signatories included the American Library Association., the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the National Security Archive.

http://www.openthegovernment.org/

Ed:  CRS reports enable voters and scholars to examine and evaluate claims about, e.g, the long term costs/benefits of tax cuts, the true truth about deficits and government debt, and how well particular agencies are doing their jobs.  Get more info about making taxpayer-funded research avalable to taxpayers at  opencrs.com 

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