The Congress maintains a public policy research group known as the Congressional Research Service (CRS). The CRS conducts research on behalf of the Congress, providing Representatives and Senators the information that they need to draft legislation and vote on bills. The combination of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the General Accounting Office (GAO), and the CRS constitute Congress’ primary source of analysis for the creation of legislation. Unfortunately, the CRS does not regularly provide their reports to the public, which can make finding these reports tricky. One group has tried to fix this problem. EveryCRSReport.com is a volunteer effort to post CRS reports online. Skimming through these reports, it looks like the CRS reports are a great way to learn more about issues that are being tackled by our Congressional Representatives and Senators. For example, if you have questions about the role of EPA regulations, the CRS has the information you need to answer those questions. Another example: this week the Senate voted to remove privacy protections for our internet browsing history. This news may have you wondering what other science and technology issues our Congress will be addressing. Fortunately, the CRS has a report on the Science and Technology Issues in the 115th Congress.
The CRS reports are difficult to create and our funding of this effort has been reduced while demands on the CRS have increased. Despite this, these reports are a resource that can help us understand ongoing legislation in our Federal government. Regardless of your opinion of the content of these reports, the CRS reports provide both information to citizens and insight into the information that Congress is using or ignoring when developing legislation.