Lieberman: CRS reports should be freely accessible

Reports by the Congressional Research Service should be made widely accessible to the public in a searchable system, said Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.).

Although some CRS reports are available to the public, the government needs a centralized system that collects, sorts and categorizes all the reports by topic so they can be readily searched, Lieberman wrote to Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) March 4. Schumer is chairman of the Rules and Administration Committee, and Lieberman is chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

“Unfortunately, the present system does not allow this basic level of functionality,” Lieberman wrote. “A robust system would also help restore the equity of access that is sorely needed.”

Since it was created in 1914, CRS has provided reports as requested by members of Congress and their staffs. Some lawmakers distribute the reports to their constituents, news media and the public, and some of the reports are sold by private dealers or leaked to various Web sites.

Last year, the Senate Rules and Administration Committee authorized the CRS director to develop a system that would allow senators to post individual CRS reports on their official Web sites. Lieberman said that change does not go far enough.

”I believe a more effective system would provide constituents with tools similar to those used by congressional staff, with material presented by topic and the capability to search across all reports and issue briefs,” Lieberman wrote.

“By establishing a clearinghouse that would offer all reports and would be automatically updated, we could ensure that those with power and those without have equal access to this important resource,” he wrote.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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