That seems like a reasonable and fair principle, therefore it is not surprising that the federal government has a hard time following it. For example, even though the Congressional Research Service (CRS) receives $100 million dollars of taxpayer funding, taxpayers are unable to obtain the many useful studies produced by CRS unless they pay an expensive subscription service.
Campaign for Liberty has joined with eleven other organizations on a letter to the House and Senate Chairs of the Committee on Rules and Administration, as well as the Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on the Library of Congress, asking that they take steps to make it easier for taxpayers to obtain the CRS reports they are, after all, paying for:
February 29, 2016
The Honorable Candice Miller Chairman Committee on House Administration United States House of Representatives
The Honorable Roy Blunt Chairman Committee on Rules and Administration United States Senate
The Honorable Gregg Harper Vice Chairman Joint Committee on the Library United States Congress
Dear Chairman Miller, Chairman Blunt, and Vice Chairman Harper,
As a coalition of 12 conservative, free market organizations we urge you to expand public access to Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports.
Each year CRS receives $100 million in taxpayer funding to produce and update thousands of nonpartisan reports describing government agencies, explaining public policy, and tallying government spending. They are an invaluable resource to Congress in its efforts to oversee our massive federal government and hold it accountable.
Members of Congress and their staff have easy access to CRS reports. So too do lobbyists and other Beltway insiders, who often pay for the reports through expensive subscription services. But taxpayers cannot easily get copies of CRS reports.
This policy is unfair and outdated. It also stands in stark contrast to other legislative branch agencies: both the Congressional Budget Office and the Government Accountability Office release their reports to the public.
Making CRS reports easily accessible by the public will increase transparency in government, and allow everyday citizens access to important information that will better educate them on the issues before Congress.
The bottom line is taxpayers pay for these reports. It is only fair that they have easy access to them.
President, American Commitment
President, Americans for Tax Reform
President, Campaign for Liberty
Chief Strategy Officer, Conservative Reform Network
President, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste
President and CEO, Freedom Works
CEO, Heritage Action for America
Co-Founder, Liberty Coalition
Executive Director, National Taxpayers Union
President, Niskanen Center
Senior Fellow and Director of the Governance Project, R Street Institute
President, Taxpayers Protection Alliance