The Corner

Politics & Policy

Government to Spend $1.5 Million Making a Website That Already Exists and Cost $20,000

The Congressional Research Service prepares detailed reports about a variety of policy topics for Congress — but historically has not released those reports to the public. Instead, the reports leak out through private websites like EveryCRSReport.com. This has always annoyed people who closely follow policy debates, and it was a victory for transparency when Congress finally decided to make the reports public in the 2018 Omnibus Appropriations Law.

But on second thought, the creators of EveryCRSReport.com now have this to say:

Our website cost under $20,000 to build and maintain with full functionality and fewer than 100 hours of programming time; the Library [of Congress’s planned] CRS website will cost $1.5 million, have limited functionality, suffer from significant design limitations, and not be completed for more than a year after the law was enacted and six months after the statutory deadline for completion.

They have a bunch of suggestions the government should probably follow, but you know what? When it comes down to it, maybe even publishing government reports is a job better left to the private sector.

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