(Updates with Bice and Kilmer statement starting fifth paragraph from the bottom. Previous version corrected workplace of Kelly in last paragraph.)
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The head of the Congressional Research Service will resign by end of the month, after facing claims of mismanagement at Capitol Hill’s in-house think tank.
CRS Director Mary Mazanec will step down June 30, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden said in an all-staff email Tuesday afternoon obtained by Bloomberg Government. Hayden named Mazanec her temporary “senior adviser” and tasked her with “special projects with the Library’s user communities.”
“We want to thank Dr. Mazanec for her more than a decade of leadership and service to the Library of Congress, CRS, and the United States Congress,” Hayden wrote.
Hayden said an interim CRS director would be named “soon.”
Mazanec’s departure comes after members of the House Administration Subcommittee on Modernization panned her leadership of the agency at a hearing last month.
Subcommittee Chairwoman Stephanie Bice (R-Okla.) pressed Mazanec during the April 26 hearing over CRS’ high attrition rates and outdated technology. Bice also noted “low morale” at the agency, nodding to the fiscal 2022 federal employee survey.
“While we should stipulate that the surveys are snapshots in time and not a perfect measure, the 22 results that we have seen do raise concern showing a decline in employees’ trust and confidence in senior leadership and with communication,” Bice said.
At one point, Bice interrupted Mazanec’s testimony to ask for “the deliverables” from the $20 million earmarked in 2018 for the agency’s modernization efforts. Mazanec was unable to specify how much of the funding had been used.
The agency also has come under fire in recent years from Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), who questioned the agency’s findings on the economic impact of the 2017 tax overhaul.
Bice and Rep. Derek Kilmer (Wash.), the top Democrat on the modernization subcommittee, in a statement Wednesday applauded Hayden’s decision and pledged to work to improve CRS’s operations.
“It is in everyone’s best interest to ensure that CRS is functioning effectively and meeting the challenges of a more modern Congress,” they said.
Daniel Schuman, the policy director of the progressive, good-governance group Demand Progress, said in an email Mazanec’s departure “came about because of massive CRS staff turnover, mismanagement, and the stifling of innovation at the top. It became apparent to everyone that promises from CRS leadership to reform their practices and tighten up their management was lip service intended to placate Congress and wait until the overseers turned over.”
Experts have previously have warned that CRS’s troubles make it more difficult for Congress to operate. Lawmakers frequently rely on its work to understand legislation and procedure on Capitol Hill.
“CRS is stuck somewhere between 1950 and 1975,” Lorelei Kelly, who is at Georgetown University, said in an interview before the announcement. “They have not seen investments on their own behalf in the kind of competence and expertise that will allow them to protect public goods in an age of dramatic change.”