Policy Solution

Giving the public access to congressional reports

Helping Congress retain its institutional knowledge while giving the public access to those same insights.


The problem:

When members of Congress want additional information on a subject, they request a report from one of the many legislative or executive branch agencies. These reports are among the only sources of nonpartisan, subject-matter expertise on Capitol Hill.

However, many of these reports never are made available to the public because there is no mandate to release this research. If they are released, they are often scattered across multiple websites instead of placed in a central widely publicized and accessible location. Even within Congress, the lack of a centralized database means that many reports are lost to time. Centralizing and making public these reports would ensure that Congress is able to retain its institutional knowledge while giving the public access to those same insights. It’s time to transparently and systematically release these resources.

Solutions: 

Issue One has endorsed the creation of a centralized database for reports. In April, we joined 28 other organizations in calling for the House to pass the bipartisan Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act (ACMRA – H.R.2485), which it did unanimously. We also echoed this recommendation through our Appropriations Committee process recommendations. And when the proposal came up for consideration before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs, we once again called for the committee to favorably report out its version of the ACMRA (S. 2838), which it did via a unanimous voice vote.

Provisions in the bill would:

  • Create a central, publicly-accessible database of all reports sent to Congress, with certain limitations
  • Require Congress to maintain that database
  • Directs all support agencies to make covered reports available in a timely manner

Learn more about our congressional capacity and operations work.