January 26, 1998
We are writing to urge you to co-sponsor Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Daniel Coats' (R-IN) draft legislation to put Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports and products on the Internet, including CRS Issue and Legislative Briefs, and Authorization and Appropriation products.
CRS products are some of the finest research prepared by the federal government. They are a precious source of government information on a huge range of topics. In a recent editorial, Roll Call described CRS reports as "often the most trenchant and useful monographs available on a subject." Citizens, scholars, journalists, librarians, businesses, and many others have long wanted access to CRS reports via the Internet.
We believe that taxpayers ought to be able to read the research that we pay for. But citizens cannot obtain most CRS products directly. Instead, we must purchase them from private vendors, or engage in the burdensome and time-consuming process of requesting a member of Congress to send CRS products to us. Often, citizens must wait for weeks or even months before such a request is filled. This barrier to obtaining CRS products serves no useful purpose, and damages citizens' ability to participate in the congressional legislative process.
James Madison aptly described why the public needs reliable, accurate information about current events: "A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."
The McCain-Coats bill falls squarely within the spirit of Madison's honorable words. We hope you will decide to co-sponsor this fine legislation to put CRS products on the Internet.
American Conservative Union
American Protestant Health Alliance
America Online Corp.
Danielle Brian, Executive Director, Project on Government Oversight
Business Software Alliance
California Budget Project (CA)
Center for Media Education
Center for Science in the Public Interest
Citizen Advocacy Center (IL)
Timothy J. Coleman, Director, Kettle Range Conservation Group (WA)
Computer Communications Industry Association
Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility
Congressional Accountability Project
Consumer Project on Technology
Decision Matrix Inc. (OR)
George Draffan, Director, Public Information Network (WA)
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting
Federation of American Scientists
Ray Fenner, President, Superior Wilderness Action Network (MI)
Darlene Flowers, Executive Director, Foster Parents Association of Washington State (WA)
Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics
Government Purchasing Project
Impact Voters of America
Information Technology Association of America
Institute for Local Self-Reliance
League of Women Voters of the United States
Marin Democratic Club (CA)
Halsey Minor, Chief Executive Officer, CNET
Barbara J. Moore, Ph.D., President and CEO, Shape Up America!
National Association of Manufacturers
National Citizens Communications Lobby
Native Forest Council (OR)
Netscape Communications Corp.
Public Interest Projects
Amy Ridenour, President, The National Center for Public Policy Research
Greg Schuckman, Director of Public Affairs, American Association of Engineering Societies
Peter J. Sepp, Vice-President for Communications, National Taxpayers Union
Taxpayers for Common Sense
Triad Healthcare Technologies, LLC (TX)
United Democratic Clubs, Orange County, CA; Larry Trullinger, President
United Seniors Association
U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG)
U.S. Term Limits
Russell Verney, Chairman, Reform Party
Virginia Journal of Law and Technology
Western Land Exchange Project (WA)