"Nota Bene" means "note this well" or "take particular notice." We at the O'Quinn Law Library will be posting tips on legal research techniques and resources, developments in the world of legal information, happenings at the Law Library, and legal news reports that deserve your particular attention. We look forward to sharing our thoughts and findings and to hearing from you.

N.B: Make a note to visit "Nota Bene" regularly.

-Spencer L. Simons, former Director, O'Quinn Law Library and Associate Professor of Law

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Finding CRS Reports

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) is an arm of the Library of Congress. Joined today by two other congressional support agencies, the Congressional Budget Office and the Government Accountability Office, the Congressional Research Service offers research and analysis to Congress on all current and emerging issues of national policy. CRS is unique because its time and efforts are devoted to working exclusively for Congress, providing reports that make no legislative or policy recommendations, but seek to accurately inform members of the House and Senate in its lawmaking from bill drafting to oversight of enacted laws. 

CRS Reports are a wonderful resource for research a huge variety of topics- over 700 new  reports are released annually within the broad  subjects of  American Law, Domestic Social Policy,  Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade, Government and Finance,  and  Resources, Science and Industry. Only members of Congress and their staffs can place requests and reports are not disseminated to the American public. The lack of public dissemination of these government documents can make it difficult to find the reports, and efforts to make the reports freely available on the internet have been unsuccessful to date. 

If there is a specific report you are looking for, try using a search engine to search for the report's title, and search for the report’s name along with  “filetype:pdf” to restrict your search to complete PDFs of the reports. For example:

“ACA: A Brief Overview of the Law, Implementation, and Legal Challenges” filetype:pdf

Many institutions, both public and commercial also collect and archive CRS reports, just a few of the recommended sites for finding CRS reports include:

Bloomberg Law (access limited to UHLC community): Bloomberg Law has a large collection of CRS reports with thousands of reports from 1998 through the present, covering all topics including prior versions of reports that  have been updated multiple times. To search for CRS reports on Bloomberg Law, from the home screen click on the “Legislative and Regulatory” tab, then select “Legislative Resources.”  Then select “CRS Reports” under the “Legislative Materials” section to search. Excellent resource for new and very recent reports unavailable elsewhere.

University of North Texas Digital Library (CRS Collection):  The UNT digital library collects various reports available on the web since 1990 and offers searchable access. The library currently provides access to nearly 15,000 reports.

Open CRS: Searchable collection of CRS reports from multiple sites and individual users. 

Law Librarians’ Society of Washington, D.C: Large collection of CRS reports relating to Congress and its procedures.

Thurgood Marshall Law Library:  Large, searchable collection of CRS reports on the subjects of health law and Homeland Security/Terrorism.

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