September Issue of the Washington E-Bulletin

September 30, 2011

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

STAY INFORMED/GET INVOLVED: News and Action Alerts

  • GPO Funding Update – Your Letters Still Needed
  • FCC Moves One Step Closer to Ensuring Net Neutrality
  • White House Furthers Commitment to Improving FOIA
  • Government Accountability Office Assesses E-Government Fund Programs

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY: Chapter News

  • SNELLA Highlights UELMA in Connecticut

FREE TIME WELL SPENT: Further Reading and Resources for the Info Policy Junkie

  • Compare Hidden Text of Pentagon Papers
  • National Archives Posts Thousands of Free Materials on iTunes U
  • Law Library of Congress to Host Second Kellogg Lecture on Jurisprudence

House Makes it Easier to Track Floor Action

September 28, 2011

This week, the House of Representatives launched a set of improvements to its Floor Activities website to help you more easily track action on the House floor. The updates include:

  • Unique tabs for bills and votes
  • Precise time stamps, down to the second
  • A link to download the live XML for reuse

While you won’t see much action on the site now (the House has adjourned until September 29), these are exciting improvements that will make it easier for anyone to see what their Representatives are doing. Kudos to the House Clerk for launching these useful changes!


White House Makes Progress on Open Government

September 20, 2011

Last Friday, the White House released a Status Report on Open Government. The report highlights the many initiatives the Obama Administration has undertaken to increase government transparency since taking office two and a half years ago. For example:

  • Freedom of Information Act (FOIA): The President’s January 2009 Memorandum on the Freedom of Information Act and Attorney General Holder’s guidance, which stated that agencies should adopt a presumption of disclosure. These memos have resulted in more information being released to the public and the reduction of FOIA backlogs by 10%.
  • Open Government Directive: The Administration’s January 2009 Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government and the subsequent Open Government Directive, which resulted in the online Open Government Dialogue and the release of the first-ever Agency Open Government Plans.
  • Classification: The President’s December 2009 Executive Order 13526 on “Classified National Security Information,” which streamlined the classification process and created the National Declassification Center at the National Archives and Records Administration, and his November 2010 Executive Order 13556 on Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI), which established a program for managing all unclassified information.

There is, of course, much work to be done to increase government openness. As the report states, “Open government is a means, not an end.”

Recognizing the challenges ahead, the White House today released its Open Government National Action Plan, building on the Open Government Initiative. The Plan is part of the Open Government Partnership, a global initiative that supports transparent and accountable institutions around the world.

One important initiative outlined in the new Plan is to “Modernize Management of Government Records.” Acknowledging the current challenges associated with the management of digital records, the White House has committed to:

Reform Records Management Policies and Practices Across the Executive Branch. We will launch an initiative that will recommend reforms and require reporting on current policies and practices. The initiative will consider changes to existing laws and ask how technology can be leveraged to improve records management while making it cost-effective. The initiative will seek a reformed, digital-era, governmentwide records management framework that promotes accountability and performance.

The White House will also continue to work to improve the administration of FOIA; support the declassification of the backlog of 385 million pages for public release by December 2013; work to ensure agencies implement their Open Government Plans; strengthen whistleblower protections for federal government employees; improve public participation on Regulations.gov; and involve the public in developing new policies to reform federal websites.

We commend the Administration for its commitment to open government and its continued work to ensure greater government transparency, public participation, and collaboration.


AALL Federal Legislative Advocacy Update: GPO Funding

September 17, 2011

Senate Appropriations Committee Provides More Funding for GPO than House of Representatives, But Falls Far Short of Full Funding

The Senate Appropriations Committee, late Thursday evening (9/15), considered the Legislative Branch appropriations bill, which includes funding for the Government Printing Office (GPO).   The Subcommittee did not mark up the bill, instead sending it straight to the full committee for consideration.

The Committee debated three other appropriations bills (Defense; Commerce, Justice, Science; and Financial Services/General Government), starting at 2pm and ending with Legislative Branch at 7pm.  The Legislative Branch bill was approved in 10 minutes without debate or amendments.  The good news was that there were no amendments to cut GPO funding closer to the House funding levels, but there were no amendments to increase funding either.   See Senate Appropriations Committee Press Release and Senate Report on Legislative Branch Appropriations No.112-80.

For GPO, the Senate Appropriations Committee-approved bill includes a total of $116.8 million, $8 million more than the House-passed bill ($108.1 million) and $18.2 million less than FY 2011.  The Senate bill includes $500,000 for the Revolving Fund (the House had zeroed it out), $35,000,000 in Salaries and Expenses (the House provided $33.5 million) and $81.3 million for Congressional Printing and Binding (the House provided $74.6 million).  Here is a detailed chart showing funding trends (losses) since FY 2010.  As you can see, the Revolving Fund had already taken a significant hit, going from $12.7 million in FY 2010 to $1.6 million in FY 2011.

Unlike the House, the Senate Report includes very supportive comments regarding GPO’s work toward efficiencies and modernization, and for FDsys and the FDLP.  While some believe that cutting print editions will save large amounts of money, the Senate Appropriations Committee acknowledged “approximately 70 percent of the GPO’s budget represents the prepress cost of congressional publications for online access and print production.”

This bill severely cut government agencies across the board, including Congressional salaries which may result in further salary cuts, furloughs or lay-offs.  While Chairman Ben Nelson (D-NE) stressed that Congress and agencies must tighten their belts and live with less, AALL and its members have stressed that these cuts to GPO programs primarily and significantly affect the American public and the legitimacy of our government.

AALL members have played a significant role already in support of GPO funding and we thank you very much for your active involvement.  Personalized constituent contacts are critical to success, especially regarding issues that involve money.  Senate staff paid particular attention to specific examples of how FDsys and FDLP benefit their constituents.

The Senate bill could next be considered on the Senate floor or directly in a House/Senate conference process.  Therefore, continued contacts with all Senators and with key members of House and Senate committees are still needed.  A specific action alert will be sent out early next week.

Contact:
Julie M. Strandlie
Director, Government Relations
jstrandlie@aall.org
(202) 942-4237


Submit Your Comments on the Future of the Federal Depository Library Program

September 2, 2011

The U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) just released the second edition of its monthly newsletter, the FDLP Connection. This informative update includes a description of plans for the Fall Federal Depository Library Conference & Depository Library Council Meeting, which will take place in Arlington, Virginia from October 17-20. The meeting will include a session on October 20, “Creating Our Shared Vision: Roles and Opportunities in the FDLP,” focusing on “sharing ideas on roles and models for depository libraries; changes in information policy and their effect on libraries; and a reaffirmation of the depository library community’s commitment to ensuring the public has free access to Federal information.”

As we wrote in AALL’s Washington E-Bulletin, GPO is soliciting your comments on the future of the FDLP, which will help shape the October 20 session. Comments are due by September 16.

After you submit your comments, we encourage you to read the FDLP Connection in its entirety. The newsletter is a great new resource for depository libraries and anyone interested in what GPO and libraries in their communities are doing to promote access to government information. As Kevin McClure, Research Librarian at the Chicago-Kent College of Law Library and author of the fantastic Gov Docs Guy blog, said, “There’s a lot of good stuff in this issue that I didn’t know, like how David Cismowski persuaded Downey City Library to stay in the FDLP and transition to an all-digital depository, and how they’re going about it.” Read the latest issue here.


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