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higher priority in the ASO backlog than those systems and services serving
perhaps only one department.
At the present time, for example, CRS has submitted a list of some
56 ma jor automation tasks to ASO for scheduling. Only 23 of these tasks have
a Library-wide priority high enough to get them on the list of projects actively
being worked on by ASO.
This is no criticism of ASO, which has accomplished
remarkable results with its limited staff.
It is an explanation of why tasks
that apply primarily to only one departmental mission in the Library may require
resources other than ASO's to accomplish.
CRS is a rapid-response information and research service to the
Therefore, it cannot limit its automation requirements to those
that can be accomplished by ASO over long periods of time.
Indeed, many of
the small tasks we need to do would never qualify under the present priority
Consequently, CRS has worked out a collaborative agreement with ASO
by which we pool some resources with ASO to accomplish some tasks, and undertake
others entirely on our own.
Examples of collaborative efforts:
The CRS management support system
known as ISIS (Inquiry Status and Information System) was programmed by ASO
and operates on an ASO computer.
Nevertheless, all functional requirements were
developed by a full-time CRS systems analyst who oversees all aspects of how
the system operates, and specifies the many changes that must be made to meet
the changing requirements of a dynamic organization such as CRS.
The system, whereby all new Issue Briefs are entered into the Library's
SCORPIO computer using word processing equipment, was visualized and defined by
CRS systems analysts and then implemented and tested by ASO.
This system has
enabled CRS to maintain some 400 Issue Briefs with the same staff that originally
built a systein of less than 200.
Another area of Library-wide automation activity we are involved in
is the Optical Disk Pilot Project.
Use of the newly developed optical
laser disk offers the promise of virtually permanent storage of page images in
addition to motion picture and still photography.
This project could one day
enable CRS to store and retrieve the entire holdings of the SDI bibliographic
files; and it would provide guarantee superior quality of printed output and
increased speed in response to congressional requests.
Examples of independent efforts:
CRS is an extensive user of external
and commercially available data bases.
CRS data base specialists keep continual
track of new developments in on-line information retrieval, train our staff in
the use of these systems, and monitor the limited funds available for data base
Another example is the provision of systems support to a research
division supporting a House committee project on water resources.
data base had to be built and maintained, and is used as a major source of
specialized graphic reports to the committee.
In addition, CRS systems analysts,
working in collaboration with House Information Systems, have supported pilot
projects in the House to utilize the GAO legislative history files (on microfiche)
by certain committees.
In short, the Automated Systems Office is primarily concerned with the
operation of large-scale mainframe systems of across-the-board usefulness to
all Library departments.
Very few ASO resources can be spared for the support
of more limited intra-departmental projects.
CRS data base specialists and
systems analysts work in close cooperation with ASO to supplement their efforts
on large systems such as SCORPIO.
In addition, they are heavily involved in
smaller scale, but, to CRS, equally urgent systems problems involved in direct
support to congressional offices, and in support of the CRS research mission.
What is downstream?
We find ourselves asking ASO with increasing
frequency to make computation capability directly available to CRS research
staff for statistical analysis and modeling.
As we work together to create
these tools, I don't think one need be clairvoyant to anticipate a time when
nearly every analyst might well need his or her own desk top computer at the
These tools offer important possibilities in the research process and a significant step in the development of the Service's capabilities. There
fore, I have appointed a special committee within CRS, headed by a division
chief, to examine this whole area of microcomputers. We have not requested
funding for microcomputers in this fiscal year request, but there seems little
question that one can anticipate future needs in this area,
ters hold such high promise for increased productivity and enhanced analytical
capability, and thus more effective service to Congress.
To summarize our request, Mr. Chairman, it is for $41,066,000--an
increase of $3,004,000. Of that amount, slightly over $2.5 million is to cover
The remainder, $442,539, is for 19 new positions--which represents
a staff increase of 2.2%.
One matter to which we have devoted considerable effort this year,
as in the past, is in the maintenance of our professional credibility.
absolutely essential that our reports, briefings and other communications be
objective and nonpartisan.
This is a basic operating principle and something
we cherish and work hard to nurture.
Our record is quite good in this area
but there are occasions when something goes awry.
Fortunately, our trouble
shooting system tracks these incidents and we thoroughly check out the matter
--no exceptions. If needed, corrective action is taken.
In this connection,
you will be interested to know I am nearing the completion of an effort to
personally brief every CRS staff member, regardless of position or length of
service, on our overall mission to Congress, stressing the importance of our
key policies of objectivity, nonpartisanship and confidentiality.
gratified by the enthusiastic and positive staff reception of our "refresher
On the subject of our staff, I am delighted to inform you, Mr. Chairman,
that Library and CRS management, working closely together, have reached agreement
with the Congressional Research Employees Association (CREA) on a new Crossover
Program, which will significantly enhance our upward mobility program.
program will provide increased educational and work opportunities for non
professional employees to develop professional skills.
It was a fruitful,
cooperative effort on the part of all involved.
This brings me to my last comment.
We have discussed our relationship
and cooperative activities with our sister agencies in the past, and I know
you are more than familiar with our efforts in this area, but I did want to
let you know about the latest joint product of that cooperation--a videotape
to be shown to all staff of our respective agencies, as well as new Hill staff.
It details the roles of each of the legislative support agencies and we anticipate
that this presentation will be effective in clarifying our responsibilities.
GOALS OF CRS Mr. Fazio. Thank you very much, Gil. Any questions based on his statement? Mr. LEWIS. Mr. Chairman, I do have some questions if I might. Mr. Fazio. Go ahead.
Mr. LEWIS. Your comments regarding the goals of CRS, Gil, to maintain high standards and particularly ensure the posture of objectivity are very, very important. I have discussed with you before that we have from time to time reason to be frustrated by the fact that the Congress often lacks lots of bodies but too few consultants. We have many, many staff people who are enamored with a subject, develop a bias and set about to prove their point by way of assisting members with information.
I am afraid that I have some concern, Gil, that particularly where we have a tendency from time to time to hire staff people from some of our committees, for example, and they go across to CRS, indeed with expertise, that history and training here in the Congress can lead to problems.
For the Members' purposes I would like to use an illustration of a case in point that I became very involved in last year, not just because I had a connection with the issue but it illustrated there can be difficulties.
Our administration, that is the Reagan Administration, probably was very pleased with this case but we found upon looking for information and assistance from CRS relative to the IMF issue, the $8.4 billion, that the material we received came forth with a good deal of preconceived notion in my own judgment. We sought to correct that and could not get very much response and the source of the problem came from the fact that I think at least one of the players involved had a long history of supporting those kinds of programs.
Mr. Fazio. We all did until this Administration came along then we found there were some battles in the end.
Mr. LEWIS. Frankly the whole point is Vic Fazio, our Chairman, has had a long history and I have admired that history of while we all get involved in the games playing in this crazy place or in Sacramento, nonetheless we cherish the ability of getting matter from several sides of the issue so we can make our decisions, not have someone else do that for us.
I raise the point as intensely as I do, Gil, because I think it is critical we hold this as the highest priority, that we be willing re gardless of our personnel limitations due to negotiations or otherwise we ought to have the heads of people who participate in that sort of pattern with any consistency.
I am certainly not trying to say that it is any massive problem that I see but I have been disappointed from time to time with the lack of objectivity at CRS.
Mr. GUDE. We saw it as a problem and you are exactly right, this was a violation of our standards of balance and objectivity. Our backup system, the individual who would appropriately have reviewed the paper in this instance, just happened to be away that day and it was reviewed by another
Mr. LEWIS. Flex and comp?