Information flow

The New York Times reports today on the nonprofit Center for Democracy and Technology efforts to open access to the highly regarded reports and memos of the Congressional Research Service, a research division of the Library of Congress.
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 OpenTheGovernment.org, the research service’s reports were the government documents the most respondents wanted to see.
NYT describes the research service as being "by law exclusively for the use of members of Congress." On its webpage CRS defines one of its values:
Confidential. All queries and exchanges with Members of Congress are held in the strictest confidence. Legislators and congressional staff are free to access CRS experts and analysis, explore issues, dispute them, ask questions about them, or float an unusual idea — all without question, challenge or disclosure. CRS employees do not discuss work undertaken for a Member or a committee with another congressional office or with anyone outside the organization.
The Center's website OpenCRS provides access to some CRS reports. NYT further mentions,"In February, Wikileaks, an online source of hard-to-get documents, began offering access to 6,780 of the research service’s reports dating to 1990." Wikileaks claims,
"Members of Congress are free to selectively release CRS reports to the public but are only motivated to do so when they feel the results would assist them politically. Universally embarrassing reports are kept quiet."
Contacted by NYT Janine D’Addario, a spokeswoman for the research service, said
by law, its work is to be exclusive and confidential to Congress. Additionally, a provision in the appropriations bill that finances the service each year forbids it to make its work public.

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