Congress on the Net

The thousands of reports, transcripts and draft texts of legislation that Congress generates could become available to the public on the Internet after the House convenes in January, Hill aides say. But nobody's willing to be more specific about what will be posted, or when.

Rep. Rick A. White, R-Wash., has been lobbying the House Republican leadership to change House rules and provide for more public access to congressional documents on line as part of the administrative reform package the leadership traditionally introduces on the opening day of the session, Connie J. Correll, an aide to White, said.

White introduced legislation earlier this year that listed a dozen types of documents--including copies of prepared testimony and texts of proposed bills--that could be made available to the public electronically; the bill didn't make it out of committee, however.

As for the on-line provision in the opening-day reform package, "We'll ask for everything, and we probably won't get it. But we're hoping for something," Correll said.

In a related development, Rep. William M. Thomas, R-Calif., the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, has requested that the Congressional Research Service (CRS) report to him by the end of January on the feasibility of making its documents available to the public on line. CRS documents are available electronically, but only Members of Congress have access to them, an agency spokeswoman said.

Internet access to the CRS's issue briefings and legislative reports is critical, on-line activists say, because the documents often serve as the basis for committee action. "CRS does generic research on pending legislation. That research would be very useful to citizens so they can figure out what these bills mean and whether or not they as citizens ought to support the bills," said Gary Ruskin, director of the Congressional Accountability Project, a Washington-based on-line advocacy group.

If Congress wants to make CRS reports available to the public, both the House and the Senate, which share oversight of the CRS, would have to change the agency's legal mandate. "We have to wait to see what CRS says," William A. Pierce, Thomas's press secretary, said. "But clearly this is an issue that we have to work on with the Senate."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    Download
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.