New Reports Look at Bush Administration’s Regulatory Record

February 19, 2009

OMB Watch recently released two reports looking at the Bush Administration’s impact on the regulatory system during its eight years in office.

The first report, After Midnight, examines the last-minute regulations the Bush Administration rolled out in its final months. The report, produced by OMB Watch and the Center for American Progress, argues that  many of these “midnight” regulations actually represent deregulatory actions that weaken or eliminate safeguards protecting health, safety, the environment, and the public’s welfare.

The second report, The Bush Legacy: An Assault on Public Protections, shows the Administration’s attacks on a variety of regulations using specific examples to document a wide range of activity that often took place in secret.

We are pleased to note that OMB Watch received last year’s Public Access to Government Information (PAGI) Award from the AALL Government Relations Committee (GRC) for its efforts to promote government openness and accountability. The GRC is currently soliciting nominations for the 2009 PAGI Award and Robert L. Oakley Member Advocacy Award. If you know of a deserving candidate, please send your nominations to GRC Chair Steve Mirsky by February 28.


Chapter and SIS Travel Grants Available for the 2009 Annual Meeting

February 18, 2009

Would you like to attend AALL Day on the Hill: Legislative Advocacy Leadership Training 2009 but aren’t sure you can afford to come Washington, D.C. a day early? The Government Relations Office and Government Relations Committee have put together a list of AALL travel grants offered by chapters and SISs to help you find ways to cover your travel expenses.  If you know of a grant that’s not on our list, please let us know!

[Posted by Emily Feldman]


What are the Most Wanted Federal Government Documents?

February 11, 2009

More precisely, what are the federal government documents that you most want to see? Now’s your chance to speak up! Today, OpenTheGovernment.org and the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) launched a new Web site called Show Us The Data: The Most Wanted Government Documents, aimed at identifying key government information not already online. The launch of the project follows President Obama’s two memos on the Freedom of Information Act and Transparency and Open Government, which direct federal agencies to proactively make information available to the public.

Through the Show Us the Data Web site, you can request information that you know or think the federal government has, or information that you think the government should be collecting or generating. Alternatively, you can vote on suggestions from other users.

This is the third “Most Wanted Documents” survey (the others are available here and here). Using this new Web site, created with the help of the Sunlight Labs, OpenTheGovernment.org and CDT are reaching out to government documents users in innovative ways. AALL is a founding member of OpenTheGovernment.org, and we encourage you to take a look at this exciting new project.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]


Bills to Reduce Over-classification Introduced in House

February 11, 2009

Two pieces of legislation to reduce over-classification have been reintroduced in the House of Representatives. Both bills require increased oversight and training to reduce over-classification and set up processes by which employees can challenge original classification decisions. The first,  H.R. 553, the Reducing Over-classification Act of 2009, applies only to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). H.R. 854, the Over-Classification Reduction Act, applies across the federal government. The House passed H.R. 553  on Tuesday, February 3rd. H.R. 854 has been referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Committee Chairman Edolphus Towns ( D-NY-10 ) is a co-sponsor of the bill.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]


Government Printing Office Releases FDsys as Public Beta

February 5, 2009

This week, the Government Printing Office (GPO) announced the release of the Federal Digital System (FDsys) as a public beta. FDsys allows GPO to manage information from all three branches of the government and offer a “one-stop site to authentic, published government information.” FDsys is scheduled to replace GPO Access in mid-2009.

This first launch includes the Congressional Record, Congressional Hearings, and publications of the Office of the Federal Register. Of particular interest may be the Office of the Federal Register’s (OFR) Daily Compilation of Presidential Documents, which contains orders, statements, and remarks from the White House Press Office. The Daily Compilation replaces the weekly printed compilation previously available.

FDsys is designed to ease searchability. Documents are converted one-by-one to XML, which allows the use of better search technology and mode advanced search functions. According to Mike Wash,  GPO’s  Chief Information Officer, all of the collections in GPO Access will be converted to XML by mid-year.

AALL has consistently offered support to GPO in its development of FDsys. Last year, Mary Alice Baish testified before the House Committee on Appropriations’ Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch in support of the FY 2009 Appropriations Request of the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO), including a $21.2 million request for FDsys. In addition,  many AALL members participated in small focus groups with the FDsys team at the 2008 AALL Annual Meeting in Portland and in Washington, D.C. to offer feedback. We’re pleased that the FDsys developers implemented many of our suggestions, including the ability to search by citation.

While FDsys is in beta, we encourage you to take this opportunity to explore the new site. You’re invited to submit your comments to pmo@gpo.gov.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]


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