EPA Guilty of Bad Faith in Shutting Agency Libraries

February 29, 2008

Via Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER):

“A federal arbitrator has found the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency guilty of unfair labor practices and acting in bad faith in its national series of library closures…EPA is ordered to bargain with affected public employee unions before making any further changes in its library network.”

The ruling by Federal Labor Relations Board Arbitrator George Edward Larney is in response to grievances filed on behalf of all affected agency employees by the American Federation of Government Employees Council 238, based in Seattle.

Last December, AALL celebrated when Congress included money in the FY 2008 appropriations omnibus bill directing EPA to restore its library services across the country. This ruling is another significant instance of support for EPA libraries and their employees.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

New Report: Public Attitudes Toward Government Financial Transparency

February 29, 2008

The findings of a new report by the Association of Government Accountants (AGA), “Public Attitudes Toward Government Accountability and Transparency 2008,” reveal poor public perceptions of government accountability and transparency. The survey was conducted as part of the AGA’s Advancing Government Accountability campaign and focuses on access to government financial information.

One of the key findings:

“Of those surveyed, 73 percent of American adults believe that
it is very important for the federal government to be open and
honest in its spending practices, yet only 5 percent say they are
meeting these expectations.”

The AGA encourages federal, state, and local governments to provide the public with clear explanations of financial practices, in addition to traditional government financial communications like audited financial statements. The AGA believes, “Government financial reporting that expresses complex financial details in an understandable form, delivered in a timely manner, is the key to strengthening our democracy and has the potential to bring major socio-economic benefits.”

Via Sabrina I. Pacifici at beSpacific.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

Join Us at Our Annual Advocacy Training in Portland!

February 28, 2008

Before you make your travel plans for the Annual Meeting, please consider coming a day early to join the Washington Affairs Office and the Government Relations Committee at our annual advocacy training workshop! Here is our Save the Date Announcement:

Navigating the Advocacy Wilderness:
Tools and Tips to Become an Effective Advocate

Legislative Advocacy Training for AALL Members

AALL Annual Meeting
Portland, OR

Saturday, July 12 • 8:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Learn how to support AALL’s policy agenda and practice skills to become a more effective communicator! No specific background knowledge or experience is required. Attendance is available on a first-come, first-served basis and there is no cost for AALL members.

You’ll take away:

*Information about the Washington Affairs Office and our contagious enthusiasm for information policy
*Connections with new colleagues
*Better communications skills
*Confidence to talk to policy-makers and get your message heard

You will be able to select a breakout session on an exciting issue of your choice, such as the authentication of digital legal information, funding for county law libraries or access to government information.

Join us in Portland to learn how to advocate for law libraries and yourselves!

Please register by June 1 by contacting Emily Feldman, Advocacy Communications Assistant for AALL.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

“State of the States” Report Now Available

February 27, 2008

Stateline.org’s annual report on state trends and policy, State of the States 2008,” is now available. The report covers many different issue areas (like Politics, Education, and the Supreme Court) and a section on “Hot Topics,” including the subprime mortgage crisis, global warming, and Real ID. The report also includes a calendar of 2008 State Meetings.

Stateline.org offers RSS feeds of its issue areas and Daily and Weekly News Alerts that cover state politics and policy links to publications across the country.

Thanks to the Law Librarian Blog for the tip.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

Senate Addresses Whistleblower Protections

February 27, 2008

The Senate Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing today on the False Claims Act, a law that allows whistleblowers to file lawsuits on behalf of the federal government when the government is the victim of fraud. Under the False Claims Act, plaintiffs generally receive 15-25 percent of the financial award. The Act has returned $20 billion dollars of taxpayer money to the treasury. The hearing today will focus on legislation (S. 2041) introduced by Senator Grassley (R-IA) last September to strengthen the Act against recent federal court decisions that have weakened the law. The hearing is happening now, and a webcast is available on the Senate Judiciary Committee’s website.

Yesterday, AALL and 45 good government and consumer groups sent a letter to Senators in support of whistleblower protections in legislation to strengthen the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The legislation (S. 2663), sponsored by Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR), includes “best practices” whistleblower protections for employees of the CPSC, which is responsible for ensuring the safety of consumer products such as toys, power tools, and household chemicals. The massive toy recall last year makes clear that employees of the CPSC need protections so that they can speak out about unsafe practices. AALL supports whistleblower protections as a means of ensuring government accountability and advancing a more open government.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

House Hearing on Electronic Records Preservation

February 25, 2008

On Tuesday, February 26, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a hearing on “Electronic Records Preservation at the White House.” The Committee, led by Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA-30), has been investigating what happened to millions of missing White House emails and what the White House is now doing to make sure it is preserving its records in compliance with the Presidential Records Act.

The following witnesses are expected to testify:

-Alan R. Swendiman, Director, Office of Administration
-Theresa Payton, Chief Information Officer, Office of Administration
-The Honorable Allen Weinstein, Archivist of the United States
-Gary M. Stern, General Counsel, National Archives and Records Administration
-Sharon Fawcett, Assistant Archivist for Presidential Libraries

The hearing will be held at 10:00 a.m., in room 2154 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

AALL supports the “Presidential Records Act Amendments of 2007” (H.R. 1255) to restore standards for the timely release of Presidential records and nullify President Bush’s Executive Order 13233. The bill is currently stalled in the Senate because of a hold placed on it by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL). If you live in Alabama, we need to you to ask Sen. Sessions to lift his hold! Please see our Action Alert for more information.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

Maryland Law Library Adds to Civil Rights Collection

February 25, 2008

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

Some of the latest additions include:

-Civil Rights and the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974, v. II: A comparison with model cities. Michigan Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

-The Economic Progress of Black Men in America. United States Commission on Civil Rights. Clearinghouse Publication 91. October 1986.

-Equal Opportunity in Farm Programs: An appraisal of services rendered by agencies of the United States Department of Agriculture. A report of the United States Commission on Civil Rights. 1965.

-Making the Constitution Work for All Americans. A report of the proceedings of the Regional Civil Rights Conference sponsored by the U. S. Commission on Civil Rights in Atlanta, Georgia. April 16-18, 1975.

-Political Participation: A study of the participation by Negroes in the electoral and political process in 10 Southern States since the passage of the Voting Act of 1965. United States Commission on Civil Rights. May 1968

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

Latest Edition of the Washington E-Bulletin

February 22, 2008

The February edition of the Washington E-Bulletin is now available! Each month, we provide you with the latest action alerts, policy updates, news from our office, chapter news, and further reading for the information policy junkie! Enjoy reading this months updates on GPO’s authentication of the online budget, updates on the Open Government Act, news about Sunshine Week, and more!

Here is the Table of Contents from the February edition:

-The New Washington Affairs Office Blog

-GPO Authenticates Online Budget
-White House Attempts to Change OPEN Government Act
-Orphan Works Act of 2006 (H.R. 5439)
-Open Access to Research & the Law
-New Legislation on Net Neutrality
-National Archives Proposed Rule to Restore Research Hours
-State Secrets Protection Act (S. 2533)
-Surveillance Law Expires, Congress Fails to Act

-Sign up for Sunshine Week Activities!

-Maryland Legislation would Cut Funding to Circuit Court Libraries
-Latest California Bills No Longer Available in Michrofiche
-News from Law Librarians’ Society of Washington, D.C.

FREE TIME WELL SPENT: Further Reading for the Information Policy Junkie
-GPO Partners with Libraries to Offer “Ask a Librarian” Service
-Agencies Experiment with Web 2.0 Technologies
-Librarian is one of Best Careers of 2008, according to Magazine
-An Eye on Law Blawgs


Patent Office Digitizes Procedure Manual Microfilm

February 22, 2008

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced earlier this month that it has posted archival editions and revisions of the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (MPEP) in PDF format on its website. Previously, users had to request paper copies of the MPEP from previous years from the USPTO Certification Branch or access the microfilm at the USPTO Public Search Facility. The recently posted archival copies cover the years 1948 to 2006. The decision to convert the microfilm to PDF came in response to a request by Government Relations Committee (GRC) member Larry Meyer and others to make the MPEP electronically available.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

Economic Data Site to Remain Online

February 22, 2008

Last week, the Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce announced its plan to shut down its Economic Indicators web site due to budgetary constraints. The Economic Indicators web site’s mission is to “provide timely access to the daily releases of key economic indicators form the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the U.S. Census Bureau.”

In response to the proposed shut-down, OMB Watch quickly compiled an index of commonly cited economic indicators to replace the Economic Indicators site. However, due to strong public pressure, the ESA has now announced it will continue to run the web site but simplify its email subscription service, which is the most costly feature of the site. Email alerts will remain free, but will consist of an abstract and a link to the release rather than the full release itself. We are pleased that the passionate public reaction persuaded ESA to keep this valuable resource available.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

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