Researcher and Writer in Washington, DC

The struggle between objectivity vs. neutrality continues at the Congressional Research Service

Recently, leadership of the Congressional Research Service and the Library of Congress were presented with a memorandum. It expressed concern that the agencies’ analysts, attorneys, and reference experts were being muzzled a bit.

“We are concerned that CRS risks falling short of its mission if it holds back the independent analysis that Congress has directed us to provide. Sparking our concern, CRS has appeared to avoid reaching conclusions in some topic areas with high potential for political controversy. In some such topic areas, CRS operates as a neutral compiler of facts and opinions, with little of the expert analysis, appraisal, and evaluation of their credibility that Congress requires. CRS also seems to have avoided a few topics or facets of topics almost entirely. Yet these risk-avoidant strategies, while certainly understandable, could in fact increase other risks such as under-utilizing CRS’s valuable personnel; contributing to polarization; and, ironically, inviting a perception of partisan bias. Perhaps worse, given the mission of CRS, is the risk of a slow slide into irrelevance.”

(Disclosure: I was shown the memorandum and signed it.)

This debate is not a new one at the agency….(Read more)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Similar posts
  • Congressional reform is way overdue Critics often are quick to blame congressional passivity on partisanship. Many Republicans certainly are gun shy about attacking the de facto leader of their party. But congressional indulgence of the executive is not an aberration of the Trump presidency. Legislators have both grown the executive branch and permitted executives to act without authorization and with little fear [...]
  • Library plan to publish CRS reports f... Civil society, students, librarians, and the general public were elated when Congress decided to make the non-confidential non-partisan reports issued by the Congressional Research Service publicly available. These reports are often referred to as the gold standard for information concerning the issues before Congress. We have obtained the Library of Congress’s implementation plan to make [...]
  • A Case for Stronger Congressional Com... With congressional partisanship at record highs and congressional approval ratings at record lows, the First Branch should consider reform. Two recent white papers (one analyzing the House, the other the Senate) cast light on the nature of the problem. Together they suggest that much power has shifted to the chambers’ leaders, and the legislature has [...]
  • Is the 114th Congress Getting Things ... Yes, writes Marci Harris and her team at PopVox…. (Read more at [...]
  • Congress’ Tendency to Cannibali... Why is Congress loath to increase its staff, and sometimes eager to cut it? Anthony J. Madonna and Ian Ostrander take up this question in a recent conference paper, sardonically titled “A Congress of Cannibals: The Evolution of Professional Staff in Congress.” The authors analyze history and data in an attempt to determine why, despite a one-third growth in [...]