There are a variety of ways to obtain research reports conducted by non-partisan groups that give key insights into appropriations, government spending and accountability, and areas of interest in which the federal government produces laws and orders.
Congressional Research Service
The Congressional Research Service serves Congress throughout the legislative process by providing comprehensive and reliable legislative research and analysis that is timely, objective, authoritative, and confidential. The CRS is non-partisan and provides access to its materials through a variety of ways. You can conduct a general browse search and add various limits to narrow your search or you can pick from more specialized collections, such as . The CRS produces a variety of documents:
- The R-Series reports tend to be 20-30+ pages and provide in-depth research and analysis
- In Focus documents are 2-page executive-level briefing documents that cover a wide-range of policy issues
- Insight reports are 2-7 page short-form analyses on fast moving or more focused issues
- Legal Sidebar documents are 2 page reports by the Congressional Research Legislative lawyers
- Transcript testimony before Congress
Other features available on the CRS website include the Appropriations Status Table, which provides information on current legislative activity related to the appropriations and budget process, as well as COVID-19 related resources.
Government Accountability Office
The Government Accountability Office gathers information to help Congress determine how effectively executive branch agencies are doing their jobs. It is an independent, non-partisan organization that examines public funds, evaluates federal programs and policies, and provides analyses, recommendations, and other assistance to help Congress make informed oversight, policy, and funding decisions. It also provides objective, reliable information to help the federal government save money and work more efficiently.
The GAO website is divided into the following sections:
- Reports and Testimonies, which cover a wide-range of topics that are updated daily and are searchable by date, topic, or agency.
- Bid Protests and Appropriations Law decisions on a wide-variety of topics, often cited in the media as “government watchdog”.
- Key Issues focus on the GAO’s work on a wide-range of national issues based on agency or topic, such as the 2020 Census or Science and Technology
Additionally, the GAO provides other ways to obtain organization information, such as the WatchBlog email newsletter or the GAO twitter account.
Congressional Budget Office
The Congressional Budget Office independently analyzes budgetary and economic issues to support the congressional budget process. It makes budgetary and economic predictions, analyzes the proposals in the President’s budget request, and details alternative spending and revenue options for legislators to consider. Also, the CBO provides cost estimates of bills approved by Congressional Committees and tracks the progress of spending and revenue legislation in a scorekeeping system.
The CBO website provides access to Major Recurring Reports on 18 different topics, starting in 2000. Additionally, the website allows users to browse its reports by topic and provides a Cost Estimate Search feature where users can search by bill number or keyword.
A variety of handouts are available for download at the links below:
- Presentation Slides
- CBO Estimation of Costs Guide
- 10 Things to Know About the CBO
- Presentation References
Additional, you can view a recording of the webinar at https://youtu.be/V6rCVFeJn04.