On December 11, 2007, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs held a hearing on the E-Government Reauthorization Act of 2007 (S. 2321). The legislation, introduced one month earlier by Chairman Joseph I. Lieberman (I-CT), would reauthorize the E-Government Act of 2002 and add a provision to improve the searchability of government websites.
I attended the hearing, “E-Government 2.0: Improving Innovation, Collaboration, and Access”. The hearing explored three topics, as introduced by Chairman Lieberman: how close the government has come to reaching the goal of the E-Government Act of 2002; the problem of the searchability of government websites; and how new collaborative technologies can strengthen interaction among government agencies and the public. Witnesses included Karen S. Evans [testimony] , Administrator of the Office of Electronic Government and Information Technology within the Office of Management and Budget; John Lewis Needham [testimony], Manager of Public Sector Content Partnerships at Google; Ari Schwartz [testimony], Deputy Director of the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT); and Jimmy Wales [testimony], Founder of Wikipedia. CDT and OMB Watch released a report, “Hiding in Plain Sight: Why Important Government Information Cannot Be Found Through Commercial Search Engines,” addressing the problems of searchability of government websites.
At the hearing, Chairman Lieberman also introduced S.RES.401 to provide the public with access to Congressional Research Service (CRS) publications online. CRS is the non-partisan public policy research arm of Congress and produces reports for members of Congress on legislative issues. Constituents may request reports from their representatives. Several non-profit groups (through Open CRS ) and academic sites have been offering access to selected reports (see Guide to CRS Reports on the Web), but this resolution would provide expanded, comprehensive, and free access to these reports. We support this measure, along with the E-Government Reauthorization bill.
[Posted by Emily Feldman]