Congressional Research Service (CRS)
http://www.loc.gov/crsinfo/
CRS Reports are available on the Website of the Federation of American Scientists (FAS):
http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html
Mission/Mandate:
“The Congressional Research Service provides, exclusively to the United States Congress, objective, non-partisan assessments of legislative options for addressing the public policy problems facing the nation.” (Library of Congress Website, About CRS, http://www.loc.gov/crsinfo/aboutcrs.html, accessed on 5 May 2009)
The Congressional Research Service is part of the Library of Congress and was created by the United States Congress in 1970. (Congressional Research Service, Annual Report Fiscal Year 2007, http://www.loc.gov/crsinfo/CRS07_AnnRpt.pdf, p. 4)
Target group:
All Members and committees of the United States Congress
Objective:
Some 870,000 requests are received annually by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), the part of the Library that serves Congress. Staffed by specialists on a wide variety of topics, CRS supplies Congress with unbiased information on a wide variety of subjects. (Library of Congress Website, FAQ, http://www.loc.gov/about/faqs.html#where_books, accessed on 5 May 2009)
“The Congressional Research Service (CRS) [...] provides non-partisan analytical research and information services to all Members and committees of the Congress. CRS assists the Congress with its deliberations and legislative decisions by providing objective, authoritative, non-partisan, and confidential research and analysis. Serving Congress exclusively, CRS experts work alongside the Congress at all stages of the legislative process and provide integrated and interdisciplinary analysis and insights in all areas of policy interest. CRS support takes the form of reports, tailored confidential memoranda, individual consultations and briefings, and formal seminars. In 2008, CRS delivered more than 871,000 research responses and services.” (Library of Congress, Financial Statements for Fiscal Year 2008, http://www.loc.gov/about/reports/financials/loc/fy08.pdf, p. 7)
Funding:
The major source of the Library of Congress’ funding is from Congressional appropriations for five programs, among them the Congressional Research Service. (Library of Congress, Financial Statements for Fiscal Year 2008, http://www.loc.gov/about/reports/financials/loc/fy08.pdf, p. 9)
In the fiscal year 2007 CRS had an authorized staffing level of 705 full-time equivalents and an appropriation of $100,786,000 available for expenditure. Approximately 87 percent of the fiscal year’s expenditures supported staff salaries and benefits. (Congressional Research Service, Annual Report Fiscal Year 2007, http://www.loc.gov/crsinfo/CRS07_AnnRpt.pdf, p. 47)
Scope of reporting:
Geographic focus:
The Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade Division of the CRS is divided into seven research sections, among them is a section for Middle East/Africa, one for Europe and The Americas and one for Asia. (Library of Congress Website, http://www.loc.gov/crsinfo/divwork/fdtwork.html, accessed on 5 May 2009)
Thematic focus:
Political, economic and security developments; Middle East peace process; conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan; African conflicts (Library of Congress Website, http://www.loc.gov/crsinfo/divwork/fdtwork.html, accessed on 5 May 2009)
The CRS collection of the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) focuses on national security, intelligence, foreign policy and homeland security. (OpenCRS Website, Featured Collections, http://opencrs.com/collections, accessed on 5 May 2009)
“Throughout FY2007 Congress requested assistance from CRS as it addressed numerous public policy issues, including the evolving situation in Iraq, terrorism and national security [...].” (Congressional Research Service, Annual Report Fiscal Year 2007, http://www.loc.gov/crsinfo/CRS07_AnnRpt.pdf, p. 8)
Reporting methodology:
The core values objectivity, nonpartisanship, authoritativeness and confidentiality set the standards for all CRS service to Congress:
Objectivity and nonpartisanship: Service staff examines the entire range of public policy issues so as to ensure that the research of alternatives is complete and that analysis is balanced and uncompromised. CRS works one-on-one with Members and committees to address specific questions as they arise. Those congressional clients who choose to reference or distribute CRS work can do so with the confidence and knowledge that each product or service provided is objective, fair, and without bias or unexamined assumptions.
Authoritativeness: To achieve authoritativeness CRS engages in rigorous research methodologies that are checked for appropriateness and applicability, data that are free from anomalies and are thoroughly checked for accuracy, and experts who maintain the highest standards when conducting analyses for Congress. Because accuracy and completeness are critical, CRS experts use primary resources whenever available, double- or triple-check statements of fact, ensure that sources are duly documented and qualified, and subject each product to multiple levels of review.
Confidentiality: The policy of confidentiality is applied internally to items prepared for a Member or committee and externally against demands from the outside. Members know that they can come to CRS to explore issues, and they can do so without question, challenge, or disclosure. (Congressional Research Service, Annual Report Fiscal Year 2007, http://www.loc.gov/crsinfo/CRS07_AnnRpt.pdf, p. 5-6)
Publication cycle:
CRS Reports do not become public until a member of Congress releases the report. The reports are not made available to the public in a way that they can be easily obtained. A project of the Center for Democracy & Technology, Open CRS provides citizens access to CRS Reports that are already in the public domain and encourages Congress to provide public access to all CRS Reports. A number of libraries and non-profit organizations have sought to collect as many of the released reports as possible. Open CRS is a centralized utility that brings together these collections to search. There is no systematic way to obtain all CRS reports. Because of this, not all reports appear on the Open CRS web site. (OpenCRS Website, About Open CRS, http://opencrs.com/about/, accessed on 5 May 2009)
Some of the available reports are updated on a regular basis (e.g. reports on Iraq)
Languages:
CRS reports are available in English
Navigation of website:
Information on CRS on the Website of the Library of Congress: http://www.loc.gov/crsinfo
CRS Reports are made available by other institutions:
Federation of American Scientists (FAS):http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html
US Department of State: Congressional Research Service Reports (CRS) and Issue Briefs: http://fpc.state.gov/c18185.htm
Collections of CRS reports available on the web: http://opencrs.com/collections
ecoi.net summary:
Public policy research arm of the United States Congress provides reports on United States' national security, foreign policy and related topics, including information on Middle East. Language: English
Homepage:
http://www.loc.gov/crsinfo/
Search:
All documents available on ecoi.net from this source