Catch Up on April’s News from the Government Relations Office

April 30, 2009

We’re delighted to bring you the April edition of the Washington E-Bulletin, with news about the 2009 Day on the Hill Advocacy Training (the agenda is now online!), a summary of the important letters we’ve signed on to this month,  and much more. We also have exciting news [edit] from our chapters, including the Colorado Association of Law Libraries (CoALL) on a recent trip to the Southwest Association of Law Libraries (SWALL) to talk about creating a Government Relations Committee (GRC), and an announcement from the Law Librarian Society of Washington, D.C. (LLSDC) about their new GRC! Plus, spend your free time wisely by taking a look at some new publications that we’ve carefully selected for your reading pleasure.

Here is the Table of Contents from the April Edition:


-AALL 2009 Day on the Hill Agenda Now Online—Registration Deadline June 15
-List of Policy Track Programs for July 2009 AALL Annual Meeting Now Available


-AALL Sends Letter to National Archives on Maintaining Public Access to Presidential Documents
-AALL Joins Letter to Ask President Obama to Strike Balance with Intellectual Property Policy Positions
-President Obama Names the Chief Technology Officer
-Library 2.0 Symposium Explores the Future of Digital Collections
-CIA Keeps CREST Database for Limited Use at National Archives Facility
-Bill to Require Senators to File Reports Electronically Stalls in Senate


-CoALL Government Relations Chair Speaks at SWALL Meeting on the Benefits of Creating a Government Relations Committee
-LLSDC Announces New Government Relations Committee

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

-OMB Watch Reports: Obama Administration at 100 Days
-New Edition of the Government Printing Office Style Manual Now Available and Partners Launch
-Web 2.0 Experts Give White House Web site Low Marks
-General Services Administration Newsletter on Transparency and Open Government
-April News on the AALL Washington Blawg

[Posted by Emily Feldman/Edited May 1, 2009]

Postponed: Senate Judiciary Committee to Hold Business Meeting on State Secrets and FOIA Legislation

April 24, 2009

During their Executive Business Meeting yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee postponed the consideration of the State Secret Protection Act (S. 417) and the Free Flow of Information Act of 2009 (H.R. 985/S. 448) until April 30.

[Posted by Emily Feldman] to Host Online Dialogue on Improving Transparency of Recovery Funds

April 23, 2009 was launched after the enactment of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (P.L. 111-5) to provide the public with,  “information on how the Act is working, tools to help you hold the government accountable, and up-to-date data on the expenditure of funds.” The Act established an oversight board of inspectors general called the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, which is responsible for running Here’s a memo from Peter Orszag, the director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), that stipulates federal agency requirements to provide spending and performance data to the new Web site. is an ambitious project, and there is need for improvement. Recognizing that, House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Edolphus Towns (NY-D-10) sent a letter to Vice President Biden urging him to convene a high-tech roundtable of federal, state and private sector IT leaders to come up with a uniform approach to track and account for Recovery Act funding.

In response, the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board and OMB will partner with the  National Academy of Public Administration to host an online national dialogue to answer the question:

What ideas, tools, and approaches can make a place where the public can transparently monitor the expenditure and use of recovery funds?

You’re invited to join IT professionals, the public, state and local partners, potential recipients and solution providers  for a week-long dialogue to answer that question. If you are interested in participating, log on to starting April 27th.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

Senate Judiciary Committee to Hold Business Meeting on State Secrets and FOIA Legislation

April 21, 2009

On Thursday, April 23, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold an Executive Business Meeting, during which it will consider two bills of importance to AALL:

  • S. 417, States Secret Protection Act to enact a safe, fair, and responsible state secrets privilege Act; and
  • H.R. 985/S. 448, Free Flow of Information Act of 2009 to make Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) exemptions more transparent.

We will keep you updated on the Committee’s progress on these bills.

For a full list of all of the bills AALL is tracking, please see Section 3.2 of the Advocacy Toolkit. For the monthly round up of legislation we’re watching and other updates from the Government Relations Office, plus news from AALL chapters, please sign up to receive the Washington E-Bulletin through the Advocacy Listserv or Blawg, or visit our Web site to read it online.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

President Obama Names Chief Technology Officer

April 20, 2009

On Saturday, April 18, President Obama appointed Aneesh Chopra as the first federal Chief Technology Officer (CTO). Chopra is currently serving as the Secretary of Technology of Virginia. You can read the transcript or watch Obama make the announcement during his weekly address (the announcement comes around minute 4:15):

How to Use the Advocacy Toolkit to Influence Policy at the State Level

April 17, 2009

With Congress out on April recess this week, I think it’s the perfect time to delve into AALL’s new Advocacy Toolkit for the 111th Congress and share some ideas for how individuals and chapters can get more involved in influencing policy making at the state level.

If you’ve explored the Advocacy Toolkit already, you know that chapter 4 is dedicated to helping chapters form effective legislative committees. Section 4.3 explains how chapters can influence policy at both the federal and state levels by creating partnerships with the AALL Government Relations Committee (GRC) and Government Relations Office, monitoring legislation, and getting to know the local politics and players so that you can take action when it’s required. In this Blawg post, I’ll offer some easy tips to help chapters and individuals join our Advocacy Team by becoming effective advocates on the state level.

First, find out the dates of your legislative session. Make sure you know when it begins, how long it lasts, and any other unique information about your state legislature.

Second, make sure you know your representatives, and know them well! Find out their educational background, whether or not they have a J.D. (if so, they may already have an understanding of some of our key issues), and what they do when they’re not acting as your legislators (i.e., what is their other profession?). After you answer those basic questions, dive a little deeper. What issues are important to them? What committee assignments do they have?

Third, find out what issues are at the top of the legislature’s agenda. For many, given the current economic crisis, important programs may be cut. Read local newspapers for some ideas and find out if there are local blogs that track issues in your state’s legislature.

Fourth, explore your state legislature’s Web site (if you don’t already know the URL, you can find the link on the Web site of the National Conference of State Legislatures). If the Web site provides RSS feeds or email alerts, sign up for them so that you can stay in the loop.

While you’re there, try searching for the following keywords to find relevant legislation you may want to track:

  • County Law Libraries
  • State depository library program
  • Digital authentication
  • Preservation
  • Public access
  • Freedom of information
  • Privacy

Finally, if there is a bill you’re tracking, please send a summary of the issue to the AALL Advocacy Listserv so that listserv members can exchange information and share stories about what’s happening in their states. The Advocacy Listserv is open to AALL members and chapters.

In addition, please send the links to your state legislature and any free bill tracking service, as well as any tips on how you keep track of bills in your state, to the Listserv. GRC Chair Steve Mirsky is compiling a list of free online bill tracking services, and he’d love to hear from you.

I hope this gives you an idea of some of the ways that you can influence policy in your state.  I encourage you to explore the Advocacy Toolkit for more information about AALL’s advocacy work, ideas for action, bills we’re tracking at the federal level, and more. If you follow these easy steps, you’ll be an expert advocate in no time!

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

National Archives Releases Reagan and Bush Presidential Records

April 15, 2009

Last week, Acting Archivist of the United States Adrienne Thomas announced that starting this week, 245,763 pages of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush Presidential records will be opened for research at their respective libraries.

These Presidential records, which are being released in accordance with the Presidential Records Act and the Obama’s Executive Order on Presidential Records (E.O. 13489), had been held up for review during the Bush Administration under E.O. 13233. Obama’s Executive Order overturned the Bush-era E.O., which gave current and former presidents and vice presidents the expanded authority to withhold presidential records indefinitely. E.O. 13489 restores standards for the timely release of presidential records.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

Center for Responsive Politics Releases Mashable Money-in-Politics Data

April 14, 2009

In an exciting release of a treasure trove of data on money in U.S. politics, the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) is making public 200 million data records from the group’s archive. Data from the organization’s well-respected Web site,, will now be available for free to anyone who wants to (for non-commercial purposes) grab the data and mash it up with other data sets. This includes data on campaign finance, lobbying, personal finances, and 527 organizations. CRP Executive Director Sheila Krumholz said, “Putting our data into more hands will put more eyes on Washington and, we hope, engage more Americans in their government.” The OpenSecrets OpenData initiative is funded by a grant from Sunlight Foundation.

Hat tip to beSpacific for the link.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

March Edition of the E-Bulletin

April 1, 2009

The March edition of the Washington E-Bulletin is now available on the AALL Government Relations Office Web site. This month, we summarize the bills we’ve been tracking at the federal level, examine Attorney General Holder’s new memo on the Freedom of Information Act and President Obama memos on Signing Statements and Scientific Integrity, and report on a new warning from the Public Interest Declassification Board to President Obama on fundamental problems with the current declassification system.

In addition, we also include a wrap up of this year’s engaging Sunshine Week national webcast, “Opening Doors: Finding the Keys to Open Government” and summaries of local events held by NOCALL and Cuyahoga County Public Library. Thank you to all of law libraries, chapters, and individuals who took part in the Sunshine Week webcast this year. You helped to make the event a success!

Here is the Table of Contents from the March edition:


-AALL Launches New Advocacy Toolkit for Members and Chapters


-Federal Bill Tracking Guide for March 2009
-AALL Applauds Attorney General Holder’s New Memo on Freedom of Information Act
-President Obama Issues Memos on Signing Statements and Scientific Integrity
-National Institutes of Health Public Access Policy Made Permanent
-Declassification Board Warns White House of Major Risks to Openness


-Sunshine Week Webcast Explores Obama’s Open Government Directive
-NOCALL/SLA Host Successful Sunshine Week Program
-Ohio Library and League of Women Voters Host Lively Sunshine Week Discussion

FREE TIME WELL SPENT: Further Reading for the Information Policy Junkie
-Shining the Light: A Collection of Sunshine Week Reports and Readings

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

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