January 11, 2005
CRS Reports - Tracking Down Free Copies of a Government Agency's Product
The Congressional Research Service's expertise and impartiality makes their reports very valuable to reference librarians. Penny Hill Press "offers same-day delivery of all publications of the Congressional Research Service (CRS), the 739-person, $91.7 million-per-year non-partisan "think tank" that works exclusively for Members and committees of the United States Congress." (emphasis added). (See also the Press' testimonial page for statements about the important contribution CRS reports make to legal research.) Penny Hill's charges are not exorbitant. Most publications cost a non-subscriber $29.95. Subscribers can purchase reports for only $7.95 and annual subscriptions only cost $299.
When I need same day delivery I'll gladly pay Penny Hill Press but why CRS reports are not readily (if not speedily) accessible at no expense is beyond me. After all, taxpayers pay $91.7 million a year for the Congressional Research Service
I think the Project on Government Oversight makes a strong case for giving taxpayers easy and free access to all CRS products but until that happens and before turning to Penny Hill Press, I search for free copies of CRS Reports as a matter of principle when I have time to stand by my principles.
Where to start:
There are two noteworthy repositories of CRS products. The Memory Hole has copies of several hundred reports that were once made available by three congressmen via their websites. Here's the story and the list of reports the Memory Hole grabbed from the ether.
As for recent reports, Steven Aftergood expends a good deal of effort and time tracking them down for the Federation of American Scientists' Project on Government Secrecy. He regularly publishes his finds in Secrecy News.
Here is a list of new or newly updated free CRS docs. This list is my compilation of several lists published in the December 2004 issues and the January 5, 2005 issue of Secrecy News.
Recent Congressional Research Service Reports (pdf files)
"Intelligence Community Reorganization: Potential Effects on DOD Intelligence Agencies," updated December 21, 2004.
"Terrorism and National Security: Issues and Trends," updated December 21, 2004.
"Border and Transportation Security: Overview of Congressional Issues," December 17, 2004.
"Nuclear Weapons: Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty," updated December 17, 2004.
"Intelligence Issues for Congress," updated December 9, 2004.
"U.S.-China Counter-Terrorism Cooperation: Issues for U.S. Policy," December 7, 2004.
"Intelligence Community Reorganization: Potential Effects on DOD Intelligence Agencies," updated December 6, 2004.
"The National Intelligence Director and Intelligence Analysis," updated December 3, 2004.
"Homeland Security Advisory System: Possible Issues for Congressional Oversight," updated November 12, 2004.
"Emergency Communications: The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and All-Hazard Warnings," updated November 12, 2004.
"Potential Military Use of Airships and Aerostats," updated November 11, 2004.
"Nuclear Testing and Comprehensive Test Ban: Chronology Starting September 1992," updated November 9, 2004.
"Continuity of Operations (COOP) in the Executive Branch: Background and Issues for Congress," updated November 8, 2004.
"Scientific Research and the Experimental Use Privilege in Patent Law," October 28, 2004.
"POWs and MIAs: Status and Accounting Issues," updated October 13, 2004.
More about Secrecy News. Secrecy News is a email publication of the Federation of American Scientists' Project on Government Secrecy. It is written by Steven Aftergood and it provides informal coverage of new developments in secrecy, security and intelligence policies, as well as links to new acquisitions on the FAS website. It is published 2 to 3 times a week, or as events warrant. The FAS website includes an archives of past issues.
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