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Civic Service is Not Dead: Hail OpenCRS for more Public Political Information

“Who will govern the governors?” There is only one force in the nation that can be depended upon to keep the government pure and the governors honest, and that is the people themselves. They alone, if well informed, are capable of preventing the corruption of power, and of restoring the nation to its rightful course if it should go astray. They alone are the safest depository of the ultimate powers of government.

Thomas Jefferson

When I get discouraged about the behavior of American politicians, corporate interests, religious zealots or enthusiasts of violence, it helps to remind myself that there are thousands of American citizens doing hard work to bring information on the deeds and misdeeds of the powerful to public light.

This morning, I ran across the OpenCRS Network, a privately-run nonprofit government information repository coalition that describes its mission this way:

American taxpayers spend nearly $100 million a year to fund the Congressional Research Service, a “think tank” that provides reports to members of Congress on a variety of topics relevant to current political events. Yet, these reports are not made available to the public in a way that they can be easily obtained. A project of the Center for Democracy & Technology through the cooperation of several organizations and collectors of CRS Reports, Open CRS provides citizens access to CRS Reports already in the public domain and encourages Congress to provide public access to all CRS Reports.

Thank you, OpenCRS. You may not get as many accolades as Donald Trump or as much news coverage as Natalee Holloway, but in my sky you’re a bright, shining star for helping the rest of us to take the role that Thomas Jefferson had in mind.

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