About Congressional Research Service (CRS)

 

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) serves 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's analytic capabilities integrate multiple disciplines and research methodologies. In a fast-paced, ever-changing environment, CRS provides Congress with the vital, analytical support it needs to address the most complex public policy issues facing the nation. Its work incorporates program and legislative expertise, quantitative methodologies, and legal and economic analysis.

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, even if it means bringing to light facts that may be contrary to established assumptions.

CRS services come in many forms:

  • tailored confidential memoranda, briefings and consultations
  • expert congressional testimony
  • reports on current legislative issues available 24/7 via a Web site
  • the Legislative Information System (LIS)
  • seminars and workshops, including the twice yearly Federal Law Update
  • training for congressional staff in legislative and budget procedures
  • a premier work in constitutional law, entitled the Constitution of the United States of America, Analysis and Interpretation

With public policy issues growing more complex and political debate turning more contentious, the need for insightful and comprehensive analysis of the issues 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.

 

History and Mission

History

In 1914, Congress passed legislation to establish a separate department within the Library of Congress. President Woodrow Wilson signed the bill into law, and CRS, then called the Legislative Reference Service, was born to serve the legislative needs of the Congress.

With the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1970, Congress renamed the agency the Congressional Research Service and significantly expanded its statutory obligations. The services provided today by CRS are a direct result of congressional directives and guidance.

Mission

CRS is committed to supporting an informed national legislature — by developing creative approaches to policy analysis, anticipating legislative needs and responding to specific requests from legislators in a timely manner. With a rigorous adherence to our key values, CRS provides analysis that is authoritative, confidential, objective and nonpartisan.

 

Values

As Congress’s legislative agenda adjusts to the ever-changing issues of the nation and the world, CRS realigns its services to meet those needs. But our commitment to our core values does not waiver. CRS analysis is confidential, authoritative, objective and nonpartisan. These core values underscore our service to Congress and are an enduring feature of CRS work.

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.

Authoritative. All services and products are authoritative and accurate. Analysts demonstrate rigorous research methodologies, free of built-in bias. They present, explain and justify any critical assumptions; investigate and recheck data anomalies; use primary resources whenever available; double-check all statements of fact; and document and vet all sources. This assures Members, as they engage in debate, that the analysis they rely on is as accurate as it is current.

Objective and Nonpartisan. We maintain an outstanding reputation for objective and nonpartisan analysis. Our experts are vigilant in evaluating issues without bias. A multi-layered review process also helps ensure that CRS products present issues and analysis in a manner that is fair, considered and reliable.

 

CRS Employees

CRS has nearly 700 employees. This team, working in Washington, D.C., includes more than 450 policy analysts, attorneys, information professionals and experts in a variety of disciplines — from law, economics and foreign affairs to defense and homeland security, public administration, education, health care, immigration, energy, environmental protection, science and technology. The breadth and depth of this expertise enables CRS staff to mobilize quickly, working together in flexible groups to provide integrated analyses of complex issues.

 

Organizational Structure

CRS is divided into five interdisciplinary research divisions:

The Knowledge Services Group provides research support services to the policy experts in each of the five divisions.

 

Publicado el 24/10/2011

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