What is the CRS and what does it do?

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) is a nonpartisan research agency within the United States Congress that provides comprehensive, objective, and timely analysis, research, and information to support Congress in its legislative and oversight duties.

Congressional Research Service logo
Congressional Research Service logo

Here’s an overview of the CRS and its functions:

Purpose and Mission:

  1. Nonpartisan Analysis:
    • The CRS operates as a legislative branch agency that does not engage in policymaking. It offers impartial, objective, and nonpartisan analysis and research.
  2. Support for Congress:
    • The primary purpose of the CRS is to assist members of Congress, committees, and congressional staff by providing authoritative information and research on a wide range of policy issues.

Functions and Services:

  1. Policy Analysis and Research:
    • The CRS conducts in-depth research and analysis on various policy areas, including economics, law, foreign affairs, science, technology, and more.
    • It produces reports, briefings, memoranda, and other materials to inform Congress about complex policy issues.
  2. Legislative Support:
    • It assists lawmakers in drafting legislation by providing background information, legal analysis, and expertise on specific topics.
    • CRS reports can aid in understanding the potential impacts of proposed legislation and alternatives.
  3. Oversight and Investigations:
    • The CRS supports congressional oversight efforts by conducting research and analysis to assist committees in their oversight functions, investigations, and hearings.
  4. Customized Services:
    • It offers customized services, including confidential memoranda and briefings, to individual members of Congress and their staff to address specific inquiries or needs.
  5. Information Dissemination:
    • CRS reports, analysis, and publications are made available to Congress and, in some cases, to the public through official channels, enhancing transparency and access to information.

Supportive Role in Congress:

  1. Expertise and Objectivity:
    • The CRS employs subject-matter experts, including analysts, attorneys, economists, and scientists, who provide expertise across a wide range of disciplines.
    • Its nonpartisan nature ensures that information and analysis are based on rigorous research and objective analysis.
  2. Confidentiality and Independence:
    • While much of its work is available to Congress and the public, the CRS can also provide confidential, non-public information to members and committees upon request.
    • Its independence allows for objective analysis without external pressure or influence.


The Congressional Research Service serves as an invaluable resource for Congress, providing authoritative, nonpartisan analysis and research to aid lawmakers in their legislative and oversight functions.

Its expertise, objectivity, and comprehensive analysis support informed decision-making and help Congress navigate complex policy issues.

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