Source description last updated: 7 October 2019
In brief: The Congressional Research Service (CRS) is a research entity within the Library of Congress that provides policy and legal analysis to committees and members of both chambers of the United States Congress (House of Representatives and Senate).
Coverage on ecoi.net:
Reports, In Brief, In Focus
Covered weekly on ecoi.net, for countries of priorities A-C.
“The Congressional Research Service (CRS) works exclusively for the United States Congress […], regardless of party affiliation.” It is “a legislative branch agency within the Library of Congress” (CRS website: Congressional Research Service Careers, undated) that assists “Congress throughout the legislative process” (CRS website: History and Mission, last updated 15 November 2012) by providing analysis that, according to CRS, adheres to its core values (CRS website: Values, last updated 15 November 2012), which are: confidentiality, objectivity, non-partisanship, authoritativeness and timeliness (CRS: Annual Report; Fiscal Year 2018, January 2019, p. 3).
“CRS employs more than 400 policy analysts, attorneys and information professionals across a variety of disciplines in five research divisions.”
These research divisions are: “American Law[;] Domestic Social Policy[;] Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade[;] Government and Finance”, and “Resources, Science and Industry” (CRS website: Areas of Research, undated).
“The Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade Division is organized into eight regional and functional sections that follow critical worldwide security, political and economic developments for Congress.” (CRS website: Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade Division, undated)
The CRS is funded as part of the budget of the Library of Congress (LoC). The CRS’s salaries and other expenses are indicated as 125,688,000 USD for the fiscal year 2019, based on the LoC’s Fiscal 2019 Operating Plan. (LoC: Fiscal 2020 Budget Justification, undated, p. 7).
Scope of reporting:
Geographic focus: all countries
Thematic focus: The Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade division works on issues including “U.S. relations with individual countries, regional trends and transnational issues such as terrorism, refugees and other humanitarian crises; global health; nonproliferation; and global institutions such as the United Nations.” (CRS website: Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade Division, undated)
CRS states that its “[a]nalysts demonstrate rigorous research methodologies, free of built-in bias”, “present, explain and justify any critical assumptions; investigate and recheck data anomalies; use primary resources whenever available; double-check all statements of fact; and document and vet all sources” and are “vigilant in evaluating issues without bias.” The CRS adds that “[a] multi-layered review process also helps ensure that CRS products present issues and analysis in a manner that is fair, considered and reliable.” (CRS website: Values, last updated 15 November 2012)
The publications are authored by staff analysts specialised in the region. Country reports, including “In Brief” reports, contain references to publicly accessible sources. Most of the sources referred to are in English (see, for example, CRS: Iran: Internal Politics and U.S. Policy and Options, last updated 13 August 2019 and CRS: Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations In Brief, last updated 14 August 2019) but some reports also draw on sources in other Western language such as French (see, for example, CRS: Rwanda: In Brief, last updated 14 May 2019) or Spanish (see, for example, CRS: Mexico: Background and U.S. Relations, last updated 2 May 2019). The “In Focus” reports, which provide a brief overview of a current issue, do not contain any references to other sources (see, for example, CRS: Venezuela: Political Crisis and U.S. Policy, last updated 26 August 2019 and CRS: Hong Kong’s Protests of 2019, last updated 16 August 2019).
Language(s) of publications:
Further reading / links:
CRS publishes their reports at https://crsreports.congress.gov/
CRS Reports are also available on the website of the Federation of American Scientists (FAS): http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html and via the EveryCRSREport.com project: https://www.everycrsreport.com/
US Congress website
LegBranch.org: The struggle between objectivity vs. neutrality continues at the Congressional Research Service, 13 February 2018
Roll Call: Public to get rare look inside the Congressional Research Service, with attrition, morale points of contention, 19 June 2019
All links accessed 7 October 2019.