For the First Time, White House Reveals Total Intelligence Budget

November 2, 2010

In a remarkable step toward greater government transparency, the Administration last week disclosed for the first time the total intelligence budget. For 2010, the figure is $80.1 billion.

The intelligence budget was revealed in 1997 and 1998 in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the Federation of American Scientists. However, the “national” and “military” components of the budget were not disclosed as part of that lawsuit, so the release painted only a partial picture of intelligence spending.

Since 2007, the White House has disclosed the National Intelligence Program (NIP) budget, as required by Congress in response to the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. However, at his July 20, 2010 confirmation hearing, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper admitted that revealing only the NIP budget was “disingenuous.”

This exciting step toward greater government openness would not have been possible without the tireless advocacy efforts of 2006 AALL Public Access to Government Information (PAGI) Award winner Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists. Congratulations to Steve on this significant victory!

[Posted by Emily Feldman]


Aftergood Examines Over-classification

October 19, 2010

2006 AALL Public Access to Government Information (PAGI) Award winner Steven Aftergood, author of Secrecy News, recently published a new article at ForeignPolicy.com examining the current classification system, including the potential impact of the recently-enacted Reducing Over-classification Act (P.L. 111-258).

AALL strongly supports the Reducing Over-classification Act, introduced in the 111th Congress by Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA-36). The new law institutes annual training for classifiers and requires Inspectors general to assess their department’s classification policies.

Though this law takes many positive steps to combat government secrecy, Aftergood highlights some of the changes that are still needed to encourage declassification  and ensure a shift toward greater government openness.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]


Thurgood Marshall Law Library Adds to Commission on Civil Rights Collection

September 30, 2010

The Thurgood Marshall Law Library at the University of Maryland School of Law recently added twenty new documents to their digital collection of historical publications from the United States Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR). The Library’s collection is a partnership of the Government Printing Office, the USCCR and the Thurgood Marshall Law Library.

Some of the latest additions include:

[Posted by Emily Feldman]


Constitution Day and Citizenship Day

September 17, 2010

Each year, September 17 marks Constitution Day and Citizenship Day. This holiday is celebrated around the country in recognition of the signing of the United States Constitution on September 17, 1787.

The late Senator Robert Byrd introduced legislative language into the omnibus spending bill in 2004 to establish this holiday. The law requires that each educational institution that receives federal funds hold an educational program on the Constitution for students on September 17 of each year (or during the week, if the holiday falls on a weekend) on the history of the Constitution.

The Law Library of Congress provides many resources to help you celebrate Constitution Day and Citizenship Day. Resources include:

The Law Library also includes the Constitution in its Guide to Law Online, and a resource guide to the Constitution.

If your law library is involved in a Constitution Day event, please let us know!

[Posted by Emily Feldman]


Law Library of Congress Adds Enhancements to THOMAS

September 2, 2010

The Law Library of Congress announced this week the third major upgrade of 2010 to THOMAS. Important updates include a new mobile-friendly homepage that provides access to enhanced functionalities, and a new map of state legislature Web sites that links you to bill-tracking resources at the state level. Kudos to the Law Library for continuing to add new useful features to THOMAS!

[Posted by Emily Feldman]


Your Feedback Needed on Federal Register 2.0

August 2, 2010

Last week, AALL President Joyce Manna Janto announced in her July e-newsletter the launch of the beta version of Federal Register 2.0. The XML version of the Federal Register was released on July 26 to mark the 75th anniversary of the  Federal Register Act. The AALL Executive Board approved a “Resolution Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Federal Register Act” on July 8 in honor of this remarkable anniversary.

As President Janto explained, the new FR Web site is designed to encourage users to educate themselves about the regulatory process and submit comments through Regulations.gov on topics of interest. Notices and proposed rules are divided into categories such as Money, Science and Technology, and Business and Industry, and searchable by date, agency and location.

Raymond Mosley, Director of the Office of the Federal Register (OFR), specifically asked AALL members to send in comments on the new Federal Register 2.0. We encourage you to explore the new site and submit your comments.

We would especially like you to submit comments on the way the content is presented, the ease of navigation, and the process through which users can submit comments through Regulations.gov.  The OFR needs to hear from legal researchers so that they can make improvements based on your needs. Thanks very much in advance!

[Posted by Emily Feldman]


The New USA.gov- Now with Social Networking, Apps and More

July 7, 2010

The General Service Administration (GSA) just launched a complete redesign of the government’s web portal, USA.gov. The launch of the new site follows months of online public dialogue to determine users’ preferred format, functionality and design. Thank you to those of you who participated in the discussion on their blog!

The new USA.gov offers a simplified, cleaner look. One of the first things you’ll probably notice about the new site is the large search bar at the top of the screen. In the middle of the homepage, you’ll see a real-time list of the most popular topics that people are searching for.

The very useful Reference Center includes links to historical documents; laws and regulations; local, federal, and national libraries; and online library databases.

The new site also offers new apps, including one that monitors product recalls and another that tracks flight information from the Transportation Security Administration.

At the bottom of each page, you’ll find ways to connect with USA.gov through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more. You can also subscribe to RSS feeds from the Federal Citizen Information Center and USA.gov.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]


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