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Group Seeks Public Access To Congressional Research

American taxpayers spend more than $100 million a year supporting the work of the Congressional Research Service, a little-known but highly regarded division of the Library of Congress.

But unlike the library itself, the research service is by law exclusively for the use of members of Congress. Only they and their staffs have access to the reports and memorandums it generates, and only they can decide to make its work public. 

A nonprofit group, the Center for Democracy and Technology, is leading a fight to change that.

”We think the public should have access to the information that is shaping legislation and policy, especially since it pays for that information,” said Ari Schwartz, the organization’s chief operating officer. 

The center has been working for years to gain access to the service’s reports. In a recent informal online survey financed by the Sunlight Foundation together with the center and, the research service’s reports were the government documents the most respondents wanted to see.