March Issue of the Washington E-Bulletin

March 31, 2011

The March issue of the Washington E-Bulletin is now available on AALLNET. Here is the Table of Contents:

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT

  • Advocacy Training Agenda Now Available

UPDATES FROM THE HILL AND THE GOVERNMENT RELATIONS OFFICE

  • Shining the Light on the Freedom of Information Act
  • OpenTheGovernment.org and AALL Host Sixth Annual Sunshine Week Webcast
  • Public Printer Boarman Testifies on GPO’s Appropriations Request
  • Senate Judiciary Committee Approves USA PATRIOT Act Extensions
  • House Energy and Commerce Committee Votes on FCC’s Net Neutrality Rules

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY: CHAPTER NEWS

  • Connecticut Paperless Task Force Report: SNELLA Reviews Recommendations and Plans for the Future

FREE TIME WELL SPENT: Further Reading for the Information Policy Junkie

  • Self-Assessments Reveal Agencies’ Records at Risk
  • Public Interest Declassification Board Launches New Blog to Solicit Ideas
  • Georgetown Law Center Announces Searchable State Secrets Database

OMB Watch Assesses Administration’s Progress on Transparency Recommendations

March 24, 2011

During last Friday’s Sunshine Week Webcast at the Center for American Progress (archived here), Gary Bass, Executive Director of OMB Watch, announced the release of a new report, “Assessing Progress: Toward a 21st Century Right to Know.” The report analyzes the Obama Administration’s progress in meeting the more than 70 transparency recommendations issued by the 21st Century Right-to-Know Project in November 2008. More than 100 groups and individuals contributed or signed on to the Right-to-Know recommendations – including AALL, a dozen of our chapters and more than 75 individual law librarians around the country.

OMB Watch found that the Administration has made progress on several high priority recommendations (promoting a culture of government openness; issuing new guidance on the Freedom of Information Act), but little progress in other areas (improving the use and consistency of metadata; addressing records management). In particular, AALL is very concerned about the lack of leadership from the White House on electronic records management and preservation. As OMB Watch states:

Records management is the sine qua non of open and accountable government: If records are not adequately retained, managed, and preserved, they will be inaccessible to the public, whether through FOIA, discovery in legal claims, declassification, internal audits, or any other transparency or accountability mechanism.

As we have done since President Obama took office in January 2009, AALL will continue to to track the Administration’s progress on openness. We will keep you updated on any significant developments.


Department of Justice Launches FOIA.gov

March 16, 2011

In celebration of Sunshine Week, the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Information Policy launched FOIA.gov, the flagship initiative of DOJ’s Open Government Plan. The site is a one-stop-shop for information about the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and access to data from agency annual reports. Users can search for data from a single agency or compare data from multiple agencies, as well as analyze data over time (back to 2008). Data can also be downloaded in XML.

In addition, FOIA.gov includes an excellent glossary of terms that will help the public better understand the FOIA process, with links to videos that answer common questions like, “What are FOIA exemptions?” and “What is a backlog?”.

As we noted in our audit of the Department of Justice’s Open Government Plan, DOJ’s flagship initiative was based on an idea submitted by the open government community for the creation of a FOIA Dashboard.

Congratulations to the Department of Justice for the successful launch of FOIA.gov.


Please Join Us for AALL’s 2011 Advocacy Training in Philadelphia

March 15, 2011

This year’s Advocacy Training, “Turning Challenges into Opportunities,” will be held on Saturday, July 23 from 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. at AALL’s Annual Meeting in Philadelphia. As you can see from our agenda, by attending the training you’ll learn about new PACER developments and how to use the service more efficiently, celebrate the progress of AALL’s working groups and hear about the status of the National Inventory of Legal Materials.

If you can attend the Advocacy Training, you’ll be able to choose between two important breakout sessions:

  • Breakout Session 1, “Promoting Digital Authentication in Your State,” will give you an opportunity to brainstorm ways to promote digital authentication to state policymakers when NCCUSL’s uniform act is rolled out in your state. Keith Ann Stiverson, AALL Observer to the NCCUSL Drafting Committee on the Authentication and Preservation of State Electronic Legal Materials Act, will lead this session, which will leave you energized and prepared to talk to state officials about the importance of digital authentication.
  • Breakout Session 2, “The Future of the FDLP,” will give you the chance to discuss ideas for sustaining the role of law libraries in the program. This  interactive and exciting session will be led by current Depository Library Council member Sally Holterhoff.

Thanks to the ongoing support of AALL’s Executive Board, the Advocacy Training is available at no cost to AALL and chapter members. Please email Emily Feldman by June 1 if you would like to attend. We hope to see you there!


OpenTheGovernment.org and AALL to Host Annual Sunshine Week Webcast this Friday, March 18

March 14, 2011

Today is the start of the sixth annual Sunshine Week, a national initiative to encourage a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information. AALL is pleased to co-sponsor the annual Sunshine Week Webcast with OpenTheGovernment.org. You can watch this year’s program live on Friday, March 18 from 12:00 p.m.-1:30 p.m. EDT. The Webcast will also be archived.

We thank NOCALL for planning two local events to show the Webcast and host discussions about government openness.

The national Webcast will feature two exciting panel discussions, and you’ll be able to call or email questions to the speakers during the live program. If you’re in D.C., you can RSVP to attend the event at the Center for American Progress here.

Speakers will include:

Welcoming remarks:
Reece Rushing, Director of Government Reform, Center for American Progress

Panel one:
Steven P. Croley, Special Assistant to the President for Justice and Regulatory Policy, White House Domestic Policy Council
Gary Bass, Executive Director, OMB Watch
David S. Ferriero, Archivist of the United States

Panel two:
Todd Park, Chief Technology Officer, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Sheila Krumholz, Executive Director, Center for Responsive Politics
Jennifer LaFleur, Director of Computer-Assisted Reporting, ProPublica
Tom Lee, Director, Sunlight Labs, Sunlight Foundation

Moderated by:
Patrice McDermott, Director, OpenTheGovernment.org

With this list of distinguished speakers, this year’s Sunshine Week Webcast is sure to be an interesting and fun event. If you’re not attending one of the live viewings, we hope you’ll gather some colleagues to watch the Webcast and send your questions to our speakers. Your participation will ensure this year’s event is a success!


Senate Judiciary Committee Approves Chairman Leahy’s PATRIOT Act Extensions

March 11, 2011

Thanks to your calls and emails in response to our action alert, the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday approved the USA PATRIOT Act Sunset Extension Act of 2011 (S. 193) by a vote of 10-7.

S. 193, introduced in January by Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT), would extend the three provisions now set to expire on May 27, 2011 until 2013. AALL strongly supports this bill because it would raise the standard for Section 215 orders by requiring the government to show that the tangible things sought are relevant to an authorized investigation and connected to a suspected agent of a foreign power. The bill also includes a December 2013 sunset on National Security Letters.

On February 14, 2011, AALL, the Medical Library Association and the Special Libraries Association sent a letter to Chairman Leahy in support of the bill.


House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee Approves Resolution Opposing Net Neutrality Rule

March 10, 2011

On March 9, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology held a hearing and markup on H.J. Res 37, which would prohibit the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) net neutrality rule adopted by the agency on December 21, 2010 from having any force or effect. The resolution was approved along a party-line vote of 15-8, and will now go before the full committee for a vote.

Witnesses at the highly anticipated hearing included Tom DeReggi, President, RapidDSL & Wireless; Shane Mitchell Greenstein, PhD,The Elinor and Wendell Hobbs Professor, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University; Anna-Maria Kovacs, PhD, Strategic Choices; James Cicconi, Senior Executive Vice President-External and Legislative Affairs, AT&T; Robin Chase, CEO, Buzzcar; and S. Derek Turner, Research Director, Free Press. Free Press coordinates the SavetheInternet.com Coalition, of which AALL is a member.

During the hearing, a number of themes arose: whether or not the FCC’s rules would stifle innovation and competition; whether the FCC was attempting to regulate the Internet; and whether the new rules would increase market uncertainty.

In response to the first theme, Robin Chase, founder and former CEO of the popular car-sharing service Zipcar, said, “Without an open Internet, a company like Zipcar simply would not exist.” She went on to argue that without the FCC’s net neutrality rules, broadband Internet companies have incentives to erect barriers to Internet access, “which would dramatically harm our nation’s ability to innovate and remain competitive in a world marketplace.”

In response to whether the FCC is trying to regulate the Internet, Free Press’s S. Derek Turner pointed to already-existing laws that function to preserve non-discriminatory networks, including the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (P.L. 104-104). He also noted that former FCC Chairman Michael Powell first articulated the “four Internet freedoms” in 2004. These principles served as the basis for the open Internet provisions in the Communications Opportunity, Promotion, and Enhancement Act of 2006 (H.R. 5252), which the House passed during the 109th Congress.

Finally, in regard to whether the FCC’s rules create market uncertainty, James Cicconi said that AT&T believes that the FCC “landed on middle ground” with their rules, and if interpreted narrowly, they “could be good.”

In addition, in response to written questions sent to the National Cable and Telecommunications Association before the hearing, President and CEO Kyle McSlarrow said, “The plain reading of the Order, coupled with some regulatory humility, should [therefore] provide greater certainty than the status quo.”

AALL opposes H.J. Res 37. While we have expressed concerns about the possibility of tiered pricing (also known as pay-for-priority) under the FCC’s rule, as well as the lack of adequate protections for wireless broadband, we are pleased that the FCC has taken positive steps toward preserving net neutrality.

For more background information and the status of net neutrality in the 112th Congress, please see AALL’s Issue Brief, updated by Yale Law librarian Ryan Harrington.


Government Printing Office Celebrates 150th Anniversary

March 4, 2011

Today marks the 150th year since the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) first opened its doors, the same day Abraham Lincoln took the oath of office to become the 16th President of the United States.

In honor of this special anniversary, Public Printer Bill Boarman offered these words:

GPO is an agency that performs one of the most vital services for our country: keeping the public informed on the workings of our Government. The agency’s record of technological change in the service of our country is second to none in the Federal Government, and a great testament to the skill and dedication of our employees.

GPO’s 150th year has already proved a busy and important one. In addition to welcoming new Public Printer Boarman and new Superintendent of Documents Mary Alice Baish, the agency announced on February 16 that it had received approval from the Joint Committee on Printing to work with the Library of Congress to digitize key historic documents, a partnership that AALL had strongly supported.

Congratulations to GPO on this important milestone!


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