There are a number of legislative branch support agencies that assist Congress with its different functions. I go over some of them here and more in today’s podcast. Among them is the Library of Congress, which is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution. It serves as the research arm of Congress. It’s also the largest library in the world and it houses the Congressional Research Service, or CRS, which provides non-partisan research and analysis on legislative and other oversight issues that are of interest to the United States Congress. It also assists members of Congress in their responses to specific questions and by preparing reports on legislative issues in anticipation of questions and other types of emerging issues. The CRS works with members, and committees, and congressional staff to work on these issues in problem areas, assess the implications of different proposed policies, and otherwise address the different needs.
There’s also the Congressional Budget Office, or CBO, which began in 1975 and provides non-partisan fiscal and policy analysis to both houses of Congress. Their major work includes the annual Economic and Budget Outlook that includes spending and revenue estimates for the next decade. The CBO analyzes the President’s budget proposals and, of course, looks at different spending and revenue estimates for specific legislative proposals being undertaken and considered by the Congress.
There’s also the General Accounting Office, or GAO, which also supports Congress. It does various analyses and evaluations, and even investigative functions. Generally, the Congress asks the GAO to study the programs and expenditures of different parts of the federal government. It often engages in these investigations and is sometimes referred to as the watchdog for Congress. It’s deemed to be independent and non-partisan, and again, looks at how the federal government’s executive branch usually is spending taxpayer dollars.
It also gathers specific information for Congress in doing investigations whether executive branch agencies are properly and efficiently doing their jobs. They routinely ask questions about government programs and evaluate whether or not the objectives of those programs to provide good public service is being provided to taxpayers.
You can find a full transcript of today’s podcast here.