How Would You Make the Federal Government More Transparent? The White House Wants to Know

May 22, 2009

The White House yesterday launched a new open government initiative to invite the public to participate in crafting recommendations for making the federal government more transparent, participatory, and collaborative. You can see the new Federal Register notice here.

This announcement follows President Obama’s instructions in the January 21, 2009 Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government. The memo directed the Chief Technology Officer (recently-named Aneesh Chopra), in coordination with the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Administrator of General Services, to coordinate the development of recommendations for an Open Government Directive within 120 days. AALL recently signed on to a letter to Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Open Government Beth Noveck to request that the White House announce a formal process for public input on developing recommendations. We are pleased to see this process launch this week and we applaud the Administration for their new effort to collect public feedback using Web 2.0 technologies.

As explained in the White House blog post written by Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra and Dr. Noveck, the open government initiative will take place in three phases: Brainstorming, Discussion, and Drafting. Right now, you’re invited to suggest and vote on ideas for the open government recommendations as part of the “brainstorming session.”  Next, on June 3rd, the discussion phase will begin with the “most compelling” ideas from the brainstorming further explored on a new blog. Finally, on June 15th, the White House will invite you to use a wiki to collaboratively draft recommendations.

If you have thoughts about how you would make the federal government more transparent, participatory, and collaborative (and I’m sure many of you do!), we encourage you to submit your ideas to the White House before June 19th.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

AALL and New York Chapters Send Letters in Support of Resolution on CRS Reports

May 21, 2009

Yesterday, AALL sent a letter to Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joseph Lieberman (ID-CT) and Senator John McCain (R-AZ) to thank them for introducing S. Res. 118 to provide the public with access to Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports. As we wrote on the Blawg earlier this month, S. Res 118 would require an index of reports be made available and create a centralized electronic system that would allow members of the public to search for CRS reports and issue briefs.

Late last week, we also signed onto a letter to Senate Rules and Administration Chairman Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) and Ranking Member Bob Bennett (R-UT) to urge them to hold public hearings on open government issues and to mark-up and pass S. Res. 118. AALL chapters the Association of Law Libraries of Upstate New York (ALLUNY) and the Law Library Association of Greater New York (LLAGNY) also wrote to Sen. Schumer to ask for his support of the resolution. We thank ALLUNY and LLAGNY for their efforts!

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

Join Us for the Policy Track Programs in D.C.

May 18, 2009

If you’re attending the AALL Annual Meeting this year, we hope you’ll consider attending the programs sponsored by AALL’s policy committees. We’ve recently released our annual Policy Track Programs guide to provide you with a comprehensive list of meetings and events hosted by the Copyright Committee, Electronic Legal Information Access & Citation Committee, Government Relations Committee, and Government Relations Office. The guide now includes room numbers, but please note these will not be confirmed until June 24.

By attending the meetings and events list in our Policy Track Programs guide, you’ll have the opportunity to network with your colleagues, hear more about our policy work, and hopefully learn something new! We look forward to seeing you there.

Government Printing Office Authenticates Online Budget

May 12, 2009

On Monday, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released the President’s FY 2010 Budget (Peter Orzsag, Director of OMB, blogged about it here).  In addition, for the second year in a row, the Government Printing Office (GPO) has released an authenticated online version of the budget, this year through the new FDsys.

As you might remember, GPO stepped in last year when the White House released an online-only version of the budget. GPO quickly announced that it would also publish the budget in print and distribute 1 or 2 sets at no cost to members of Congress, as well as distributing the print version of the new budget to federal depository libraries. At the time, GPO also announced that it would authenticate the online version of the budget, using the same technology GPO uses to authenticate the online versions of public and private laws.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

AALL Day on the Hill Advocacy Training Agenda

May 11, 2009

Are you thinking about registering for AALL’s 2009 Day on the Hill Advocacy Training but aren’t sure what it’s all about? The AALL Government Relations Committee and Government Relations Office are pleased to announce that the agenda for this special event is now available on AALLNET. The Advocacy Training will take place on Friday, July 24, 2009 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in the Ballroom West (A) of the Renaissance Marriott in Washington, D.C.

By participating in this year’s Advocacy Training, you’ll network with colleagues, learn about AALL’s policy priorities, and hear from one of Washington, D.C.’s most well-respected advocates, “Advocacy Guru” Stephanie Vance. You’ll also have the opportunity to spend the afternoon on Capitol Hill, where you’ll meet with your members of Congress or their staffs. If you haven’t yet registered for the Day on the Hill, we encourage you to do so today. Please RSVP to me, AALL Advocacy Communications Assistant Emily Feldman, by June 15. We look forward to seeing you in D.C.!



AALL Day on the Hill:
Legislative Advocacy Leadership Training 2009

Friday, July 24, 2009 • 8:30 a.m. – 5:00pm
AALL Annual Meeting
Washington, D.C.
Renaissance Marriott, Ballroom West (A)

8:30 – 8:45 a.m. Registration and Networking

8:45 – 9:00 a.m. Welcome, Introductions, Goals (Steve Mirsky and Camilla Tubbs)

9:00 – 9:45 a.m. Hot Topics on AALL’s Policy and Legislative Agenda (Mary Alice Baish and Emily Feldman)

9:45 – 10:15 a.m. Tips from the Advocacy Guru (Stephanie Vance)

10:15 – 10:30 a.m. Coffee Break

10:30 – 11:00 a.m. Delivering the AALL Message (Stephanie Vance)

11:00 -11:10 a.m. Review of Capitol Hill Packets (Mary Alice and Emily)

11:10 -11:40 p.m. Preparing for Your Hill Visits: Break-out Sessions
(Stephanie, Mary Alice, and Emily)

11:40 – 12:00 p.m. Q & A and Concluding Message
(Stephanie, Mary Alice, and Emily)

12:00 – 1:15 p.m. Lunch with Your Delegation (on your own)

1:30 – 3:30 p.m. Meetings on the Hill

4:00 – 5:00 p.m. Hill Reports and Wrap-up (Mary Alice and Emily)

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

AALL Government Relations Office Director to Testify at House Legislative Branch Appropriations Hearing

May 4, 2009

Tomorrow, Mary Alice Baish, Director of the AALL Government Relations Office, will testify before the House Committee on Appropriations’ Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch on the FY 2010 Appropriations Request of the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO). She will testify on behalf of AALL, the Medical Library Association, and the Special Libraries Association.

Mary Alice also testified before this committee last year. Her testimony then focused on the need to fund GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys), which is now available as a public beta.

The hearing will take place tomorrow, Tuesday, May 5, at 10:00 AM in room H-144 of the United States Capitol. Mary Alice’s testimony is embargoed until after the hearing but will be posted on our Web site later this week.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

Senators Lieberman and McCain Introduce Resolution to Require Access to Congress Research Service Reports

May 4, 2009

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joseph Lieberman (ID-CT) and Senator John McCain (R-AZ) introduced S. Res. 118 on April 30 to provide the public with access to Congressional Research Service (CRS) publications online. We are grateful to Sen. Lieberman and Sen. McCain and six co-sponsors, including Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), for introducing this important legislation. Similar resolutions have been introduced in the past few Congresses by co-sponsors Sens. Lieberman, McCain, and Leahy.

CRS is the non-partisan public policy research arm of Congress that produces reports for members of Congress on any legislative issue. Although reports are funded with taxpayer dollars, only members of Congress and their staff can access them online through CRS. However, constituents may request particular reports from their members of Congress if they know a report is available.

Web sites such as Open CRS, Wikileaks, and the University of North Texas Libraries have collectively made thousands of reports freely available online, and other third-party services offer the reports for a fee. Not surprisingly, public access to CRS reports was the first of ten most requested documents in the recent Show Us the Data report by and the Center for Democracy & Technology.

S. Res 118 would create a centralized electronic system that would allow members of the public to search for CRS reports and issue briefs. It would also require that an index of reports and issue briefs be made publicly available.

In a press release on S. Res. 118, Chairman Lieberman said that,

“CRS produces reports that inform Members of Congress and their staffs on key issues of the day. Our constituents deserve widespread public access to these reports that their taxpayer dollars pay for, but they are currently available to the public only on a haphazard basis. This legislation would require the development of a comprehensive system that would allow the taxpayers to find CRS reports easily and access the most accurate and up-to-date information.”

On March 4, 2009, Chairman Lieberman had sent a letter to Senate Rules Committee Chairman Chuck Schumer (D-NY), in which Sen. Lieberman asked Sen. Schumer to back his efforts to provide no-fee online access to CRS reports. We commend Sen. Lieberman for his leadership on this issue and hope that Sen. Schumer acts quickly to ensure public access to these taxpayer-funded reports.

Online public access to CRS reports will be among our top priorities to cover at the AALL 2009 Day on the Hill Advocacy Training on July 24th in Washington, D.C. If you’d like to learn more about this issue and have the chance to meet with your members of Congress and their staff on our key legislative priorities, please RSVP for the Advocacy Training by June 15.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

Government Printing Office Launches New Web Site

May 4, 2009

The U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) launched its new Web site yesterday afternoon. During the redesign process, GPO reached out to a variety of stakeholders, including AALL, and some of our members were involved in a focus group with the design team at the 2008 AALL Annual Meeting in Portland, OR. We are pleased that GPO incorporated many of our suggestions, and we encourage you to explore the site and send your feedback to GPO.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

THOMAS Launches RSS Feed

May 1, 2009

The Law Library of Congress has launched the first RSS feed for THOMAS. The feed consists of the Daily Digest. It’s being added to the family of other RSS feeds from the Law Library of Congress:

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

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