Public Access to Congressional Research Reports HR 110

This little known bill that the public may not be widely aware of is one by Representative Leonard Lance of NJ. Back in March of 2013 he reintroduced H.R. 110 (Congressional Research Service Electronic Accessibility Resolution of 2013) and it is to mandate the Clerk of the House to:

…establish and maintain a centralized, searchable, bulk downloadable, electronic database consisting of: (1) CRS Issue Briefs, Reports, Authorization of Appropriations Products and Appropriations Products, and other materials intended or available for general congressional distribution through the CRS website; and (2) an index of such information

…Directs the Clerk, in addition to the database, to establish and maintain contemporaneously a website containing a searchable, sortable index of all of the information in the database in both human and machine-readable formats (such as Extensible Markup Language [XML]).

Presently the Congressional Research Service consists of 700 employees that search the library of congress for information that is of interest and related to pending or proposed legislation, these researchers:

including lawyers, economists, reference librarians, and social, natural, and physical scientists, are governed by requirements for accuracy, objectivity, balance, and nonpartisanship

…The Congressional Research Service has a responsibility to ensure that Members of Congress have available the best possible information and analysis on which to base the policy decisions the American people have elected them to make.

This research information is to be made available via a centralized CRS website for the public in a “one stop” fashion and would be a leap forward in public access to the same information that Congress gets.

If H.R. 110 comes to fruition it will save the public a great deal of time doing research through many periodicals in the library of congress or through other sources. The public will have available to them the best information researched for their use:

…Allowing public access to CRS will empower citizens and enable Members of Congress to become even more effective “representatives” of the public’s concerns and goals.

One may think this is not an idea you can sink your teeth into, but just think what you can do when an issue comes up and you engage your representative beyond a previous limited knowledge of the subject. You may find that from what you can obtain from public access to a CRS data base will dwarf other sources, especially when you throw your support for or against a proposed piece of legislation.

This bill currently has 8 co-sponsors with 6 Democrats and 2 Republicans. It will be interesting if this bill makes it out of committee and if it does, will it make it to the floor and will it pass?

To notify your representative that you support this bill: click here

Source: HR 110

Hat Tip to opensecrets.org

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