By TED BRIDIS, Associated Press Writer
A new Web site aims to make widely available to the public certain
government reports about topics from terrorism to Social Security that
congressional researchers prepare and distribute now only to
The site -- http://www.opencrs.com -- links more than a half-dozen
existing collections of nearly 8,000 reports from the Congressional
Research Service and centrally indexes them so visitors can find
reports containing specific terms or phrases.
It also encourages visitors to ask their lawmakers to send them any
reports not yet publicly available -- and gives detailed instructions
to do this -- so these can be added to the collection. None of the
reports is classified or otherwise restricted.
The site, being announced Monday, is operated by the Center for
Democracy and Technology, a Washington-based civil liberties
group. The project is a response to years of rumbling and wrangling by
open-government advocates over a lack of direct accessibility to
reports from the policy research arm of Congress.
"This initiative ought to embarrass the Congress into changing its
policy and making these documents universally available," said Steven
Aftergood, director of the project on government secrecy for the
Washington-based Federation of American Scientists. Aftergood has
collected hundreds of CRS reports and distributes them from his
group's own Web site.
The research service, with a staff of more than 700 and a nearly $100
million budget, does not object to public distribution of its reports,
said Jill Brett, a spokeswoman for the Library of Congress, the
service's parent organization.
"It's up to Congress when they're made public and how they're made
public," Brett said. "The law says we only make them available to
Lawmakers often cite the reports during congressional debates, but the
research is generally not available to the public. Congress does allow
lawmakers to publish reports on their individual Web sites and send
them to constituents who request them.
On the Net:
Congressional Research Service: http://www.loc.gov/crsinfo
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org
Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.
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