The Congressional Research Service (CRS) is a division of the Library of Congress. It serves as shared staff to congressional committees and Members of Congress. CRS experts assist at every stage of the legislative process — from the early considerations that precede bill drafting, through committee hearings and floor debate, to the oversight of enacted laws and various agency activities.
CRS approaches complex topics from a variety of perspectives and examines all sides of an issue. Staff members analyze current policies and present the impact of proposed policy alternatives.
CRS services come in many forms:
With public policy issues growing more complex, the need for insightful and comprehensive analysis has become vital. Congress relies on CRS to marshal interdisciplinary resources, encourage critical thinking and create innovative frameworks to help legislators form sound policies and reach decisions on a host of difficult issues. These decisions will guide and shape the nation today and for generations to come.
For more information about the role of this unique agency, the areas it researches, it's mission and more, please see it's website.
CRS reports are done at the request of a Congressman or Senator in order to get the facts or background on an issue. CRS researchers work at the Library of Congress specifically to do the research for Congress and issue reports to Congressional staff. These authoritative and well researched reports are not intended for the general public and are created on behalf of Congressional request. However, over the years, many are leaked. Selected reports have been released due to the nature of the material covered, but it was always very selected. Now there is demand that all of these reports are released since they are technically government publications. Under the law, they have always fallen under the purview of "internal" meaning outside the scope of the FDLP. There is demand to re-interpret that definition so these reports are "external" and fall within that scope since so many have leaked.