Home / Government / Articles / Modernizing the Congressional Research Service: USAFacts proposes transformative reforms

In April 2023, the House Subcommittee on Modernization invited USAFacts to testify with its recommendations on modernizing the Congressional Research Service (CRS).

As a nonpartisan agency within Congress, the CRS plays a crucial role in providing lawmakers with unbiased research and policy analysis, empowering them to make informed decisions.

During the testimony, Richard Coffin, USAFacts' chief of research and advocacy, shared his expert insights as one of the three panelists, recommending that the CRS evolve its traditional long-form reports to include an emphasis on data provision to support policymaking.

USAFacts’ recommendations include:

  • Modernize reports with shorter content summaries that emphasize data visualizations
  • Produce and regularly update interactive dashboards, surfacing data on key issues of interest across Member offices
  • Publish reports in searchable, web-friendly formats (in addition to the standard PDFs)
  • Conduct outreach on the needs and interests of Congress, and proactively provide data
  • Provide training resources on finding, interpreting, and using data

The CRS must adapt to stay relevant and effective. Making these improvements will ensure that lawmakers can easily locate and use the valuable information within the reports.

USAFacts also recently published a set of recommendations to improve government data, including the suggestion of expanding and supporting the network of detailees available to Congressional committees, and involving them in modernizing CRS products.

The collaboration between the House Subcommittee on Modernization and USAFacts represents an opportunity to usher in a new era for the CRS. By embracing reforms, Congress can leverage technology and data-driven insights to fulfill its legislative responsibilities, fostering trust, transparency, and evidence-based policymaking.

To view the complete testimony and gain deeper insights into the proposed reforms, watch the testimony, The Path Toward a More Modern and Effective Congressional Research Service (Richard Coffin's testimony begins at the 1:10:51 mark).

To read USAFacts’ full recommendations, explore the Federal Government Actions in America in Facts 2023: An Annual Report for the Nation.

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