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Thursday, June 18, 2015

CRS Ripoff, Due to Congress

For John, BLUFWhy should we pay twice for Congressional Research Service reports?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Their Lordships, the Editors of The New York Times, have spoken on the fact that "Congressional Research Belongs to the Public", and they are correct.  And the Congressional Research Service (CRS) is a gem lodged in our Nation's Capitol.  From the lede:
In Washington, the reports have become commodities traded and sold by policy wonks.

Every day, the Congressional Research Service, a little-known government agency attached to the Library of Congress, churns out papers on issues as varied as the defense budget, the farm bill and nuclear weapons.  They’re not classified.  They’re nonpartisan.  And unlike many government reports, they’re fairly easy to understand.  Yet it’s hard for most people to get copies of reports produced by the Congressional Research Service, which operates as an in-house think-tank for lawmakers.  That is absurd.

As the Library of Congress, which will soon get a new leader, takes long-overdue steps to modernize digital access, lawmakers and library officials must find a way to make the service’s valuable work readily available.  These expert reports give taxpayers a richer understanding of the issues and choices their representatives deal with.

And there is more, four paragraphs more, including the fact that there is someone in suburban Maryland who makes copies and forwards for $399 a year.  That would be $399 on top of the taxes one pays to fund the CRS.

Here is a sample from the Penny Hill Press web page:

  • Small Business Administration Microloan Program
  • Navy Ohio Replacement (SSBN[X]) Ballistic Missile Submarine Program: Background and Issues for Congress
  • The Budget Reconciliation Process: Stages of Consideration
  • Small Business Administration HUBZone Program
  • Rules and Practices Governing Consideration of Revenue Legislation in the House and Senate
  • SBA Surety Bond Guarantee Program
  • Wartime Detention Provisions in Recent Defense Authorization Legislation
  • Recess Appointments Made by President Barack Obama
  • Conservation Compliance and U.S. Farm Policy
  • The Violence Against Women Act: Overview, Legislation, and Federal Funding
  • National Park Service: FY2016 Appropriations and Recent Trends
  • Trade Promotion Authority (TPA): Frequently Asked Questions
  • The "Islamic State" Crisis and U.S. Policy
  • U.S. Grain Standards Act: Potential Reauthorization in the 114th Congress
  • State Sponsors of Acts of International Terrorism-Legislative Parameters: In Brief
  • Cuba Sanctions: Legislative Restrictions Limiting the Normalization of Relations
  • FY2016 Agriculture and Related Agencies Appropriations: In Brief
  • EPA and the Army Corps\' Proposed "Waters of the United States" Rule: Congressional Response and Options
  • Sudan
  • U.S. Trade with Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Partners
  • Trends in the Timing and Size of DHS Appropriations: In Brief
  • Comparing DHS Appropriations by Component, FY2016: Fact Sheet
  • DHS Budget v. DHS Appropriations: Fact Sheet
  • Department of Homeland Security Appropriations: FY2016
  • Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) FY2016 Budget Request and Funding History: Fact Sheet
  • An Overview of the Employment-Population Ratio
  • Research Tax Credit: Current Law and Policy Issues for the 114th Congress
  • LIHEAP: Program and Funding
  • Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy
  • Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) and the Role of Congress in Trade Policy
  • Former Presidents: Pensions, Office Allowances, and Other Federal Benefits
  • Procurement Debarment and Suspension of Government Contractors: Legal Overview
  • Navy Ford (CVN-78) Class Aircraft Carrier Program: Background and Issues for Congress
  • The Help America Vote Act and Election Administration: Overview and Issues
  • Iraq: Politics, Security, and U.S. Policy
  • Foreign Holdings of Federal Debt
  • Country-of-Origin Labeling for Foods and the WTO Trade Dispute on Meat Labeling
One can purchase the report on An Overview of the Employment-Population Ratio (R44055), something of interest to me (it is down from 62.9% in November 2007 and now back up to 59.3% in April of 2015).  The cost from Penny Hill Press, in PDF format, is $19.95.  A report prepared at the expense of the US Taxpayer.  For $20.00.

On the other hand, if we had to purchase it from the Government Printing Office it might cost twice as much.  In the electronic age, this is out of control.

Regards  —  Cliff

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