WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Continuing his effort to provide the public with easy on- line access to high quality taxpayer-funded reports, U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) today introduced the "Congressional Openness Act" that would provide the public with access to over 2,700 Congressional Research Service (CRS) products and Senate disclosure documents on the Internet. "Putting CRS reports on-line gives the public easy access to high-quality, unbiased documents that have been paid for with taxpayer dollars," McCain said. "As we enter the 21st century, I believe it is important that Congress keep up with technology and provide this information on the Internet, in a way that is most convenient for the majority of our constituents." Co-sponsored by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT); Trent Lott (R-MS); Spence Abraham (R-MI); Chuck Robb (D-VA); and Mike Enzi (R-WY), the legislation would make CRS Reports and Issue Briefs available on-line and easily accessed through the web pages of Members of Congress and Congressional Committees. Senate Lobbyist Disclosure Reports and selected public reports would be made available through the U.S. Senate web page. In order to ensure that CRS is not inundated with requests from the public and is able to carry out its primary statutory duty of informing Congress, the bill makes the CRS products available 30 days after they are made available to Members of Congress. In addition, the CRS director is provided with discretion to remove confidential or copyrighted information, and personal information about CRS analysts. A division of the Library of Congress, CRS received nearly $67.1 million in fiscal year 1999. CRS is mandated by statute to provide information and detailed analysis to Members of Congress. Currently, Members of Congress provide constituents with reports upon request. Bill Summary Attached Summary of the Congressional Openness Act This bill is sponsored by Senators McCain, Leahy, Lott, Abraham, Robb, and Enzi Section 1: Short Title is the "Congressional Openness Act" Section 2: Purposes and Findings Section 3: CRS Information The Director of the Congressional Research Service (CRS) is directed to establish a centralized electronic database for public access to approximately 2700 to 2800 CRS Reports to Congress, Issue Briefs, and Authorization and Appropriations products over the Internet. The products will be made available to the public 30 days after they are made available to Members of Congress. The legislation will give CRS full discretion to remove the following information from these products to reduce CRS' public visibility: 1) Any confidential information or confidential Congressional research requests 2) The names and personal information of CRS analysts 3) Copyrighted information that CRS does not have permission to release to the public Section 4: Public Records The Secretary of the Senate will make the following Congressional Records available to the public over the Internet: 1) Lobbyist Disclosure Reports 2) Selected Senate Disclosure Reports (including Reimbursed Travel Expenses and Payments to Charitable Organizations in Lieu of Honoraria) Section 5: Method of Access The public will be able to access CRS products only through the web pages of Members of Congress and Congressional Committees. The Director of CRS will have sole discretion to edit and update the CRS products. The Senate disclosure documents will be made available through the U.S. Senate web site (www.senate.gov). Section 6: Congressional Committee Materials The bill includes a Sense of a Senate resolution that each standing and special Committee of the Senate and Joint Committee of Congress should provide the public Internet access to already publicly available information.