June Edition of the Washington E-Bulletin: Preparing for the D.C. Meeting!

June 30, 2009

The June edition of the Washington E-Bulletin is now available on AALLNET. This month, in addition to preparing for the Day on the Hill and other policy-related events and meetings at the Annual Meeting, we’ve been busy tracking a number of important policy developments. In good news, we are grateful to Reps. Zoe Lofgren and Dan Lungren for reintroducing legislation to increase funding for the Law Library of Congress. In not-so-good news, we are disappointed by a number of recent decisions by the Obama Administration that have put secrecy before openness. We summarize these new developments and more in the June E-Bulletin.

Here is the Table of Contents from the June edition:


-We Hope to See Many of You Here in D.C.!
-Government Relations Committee Offers New State Bill Tracking Resource


-New Legislation Would Increase Funding for Law Library of Congress
-House Passes Legislative Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2010
-Government Relations Office Posts New Issue Brief on Whistleblower Protections
-White House Keeps Visitor Logs Under Wraps
-President Obama Alters Pledge to Post Bills Online
-Declassification Board Launches Blog Series on Classification Policies
-Miriam Nisbet Named Director of New FOIA Office


-California County Law Librarians Propose Updates to County Law Library Code Sections
-Wyoming Legislature Passes Law Requiring Online Financial Information Disclosure
-SANDALL Adopts New Government Relations Policy

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

-Problems Persist with Foreign Relations of the United States
-June News on the AALL Washington Blawg

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

Declassification Board Invites Public Comments on Classification Policies

June 26, 2009

As we reported in the May edition of the Washington E-Bulletin, President Obama issued a Memorandum on Classified Information and Controlled Unclassified Information on May 27, 2009. In that memo, President Obama called for a review of policies which lead to the overclassification of information and immediate action to rein in Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) designations. He also ordered a review of Executive Order 12958, “Classified National Security Information”, as amended.

In response, the Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB), an advisory board  whose members are appointed by Congress and the President, will hold a public meeting on Wednesday, July 8, 2009 to solicit input concerning recommendations and proposed revisions to the classification and declassification policies found in Executive Order 12958.

In addition, the PIDB plans to launch a blog to solicit recommendations for revisions to the Order in four key areas: declassification, creation of a National Declassification Center, classification, and technology challenges and opportunities. According to Secrecy News, the blog will launch next week. We will keep you updated as the comment process opens and we learn more about the blog.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

AALL’s Fourth Annual Bloggers Get Together in D.C.

June 23, 2009

Save the date for AALL’s 4th Annual Bloggers Get Together! This year, the get together will take place just around the corner from the convention center. Although I will unfortunately not be able to attend the meet up this year, I checked out the space and it should be a cool and fun place to hang out and get inspired by the guest speaker. Here’s the announcement from Barbara Fullerton, DALL Blogger:


It’s time to mark your calendars for the AALL’s 4th Annual Bloggers Get Together!

Time: 5:30-6:30 p.m. (We have a space at 5 p.m. if you would like to come early!)
Date: Monday, July 27th
Place: Old Dominion Brew House

Just ask for the Bloggers! We’ll be in the Back Room.

Here are the drinks/appetizers specials at Old Dominion Brew House:

The Happy Hour menu is basically a half-price deal:

– Buffalo Wings, Mozzarella Sticks, Fried Calamari, Spinach/Crab/Artichoke Dip, Potato-wrapped Tiki Shrimp, Southern BBQ Chicken Quesadilla, Chicken Fingers, Asian Lettuce Wraps or Shrimp Cocktail – $4.50

– Nachos $4, Chili-Cheese Fries $3, Onion Rings $2

The drink prices fluctuate more but currently offer 20oz drafts at $3.99. It applies to the 32 draft products (31 fav beverages plus Old Dominion Root Beer).

Guest Speaker: TBA (It’s gonna be good!)

Directions TBA (but only a few blocks from the Convention Center).

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

New Collections Available on FDsys

June 22, 2009

The Government Printing Office made four new collections available on the Federal Digital System (FDsys) this month. The new collections are:

  • Congressional Calendars (104th Congress – Present)
  • Congressional Committee Prints (105th Congress – Present)
  • List of CFR Sections Affected (1997 – Present)
  • Economic Indicators (1995 – Present)

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

White House Refuses to Release Visitor Logs

June 18, 2009

In a disappointing decision that flies in the face of government transparency, the Obama Administration has rejected requests to release White House visitor logs to the public. On Tuesday, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint against the Department of Homeland Security based on the refusal of the Secret Service to provide CREW with White House visitor records under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

In refusing to release the logs, the Obama Administration claimed that the records are presidential records and not subject to release because they could reveal information protected by the presidential communications privilege – the same claim made by the Bush Administration. According to the Washington Post, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs that said the Obama Administration is reviewing its policy regarding the release of logs. In prior litigation, U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth ruled that the visitor records are agency, not presidential, records that must be disclosed under the FOIA.

Judge Lamberth’s name may ring a bell with many of you. Formerly the presiding judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Court, he honored us as a guest speaker at last year’s Annual Meeting in Portland, OR during the program, Explore the Secret Workings of the FISA Court. He also spoke about public access to electronic information from the courts during our 1999 Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. Judge Lamberth was appointed was appointed United States District Judge for the District of Columbia in 1987 and became Chief Judge on May 1, 2008.

You can read CREW’s complaint, FOIA request, and the Secret Service’s response on CREW’s Web site. We will continue to monitor this issue and encourage President Obama to follow through on his pledge to create “an unprecedented level of openness in Government. ”

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

Offer Your Thoughts on Regulations.gov

June 12, 2009

The Obama Administration has launched an effort to focus public discussion on the design and features of Regulations.gov. As many of you know, the existing site can be very frustrating to use. With the launch of http://www.regulations.gov/exchange, you now have the opportunity to offer comments on how to improve the site.

Proponents of electronic rulemaking believe that it has valuable potential as a mechanism to encourage public participation in governmental decision making. Users can read and comment on the numerous regulations that federal agencies routinely propose. Librarians and lawyers should find it useful as a mechanism to find comments and documents concerning a particular rulemaking.

Unfortunately, the existing site does not live up to this potential. At least two major problems exist. The designers did not construct the site around the concept of regulatory dockets, but instead built it to search for documents placed in any docket. Thus a web search combs through every rulemaking document on the Web site in this ever growing database.

Another problem is the metadata. Agencies are not required to encode their documents using common protocols, which often makes a search extremely difficult. Finally, agencies do not always put all the relevant material that belongs in a rulemaking docket into the electronic docket.

If you have experienced problems using Regulations.gov, please head over to http://www.regulations.gov/exchange/ and offer your thoughts. For much more on the problems with the site and other ideas for reform, please take a look at the American Bar Association’s report on e-rulemaking.

[Posted by AALL Government Relations Committee member Barbara Brandon and Emily Feldman]

Senate Hearing on Whistleblower Protections

June 11, 2009

The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia is holding a hearing right now on whistleblower protections. The hearing began at 2:30pm EDT. The subcommittee is holding this hearing to consider legislation in the Senate to provide whistleblowers with stronger protections, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2009 (S. 372). The hearing will also address differences between S. 372 and the House version of the bill (H.R. 1507).

As we explain in a new AALL Issue Brief on whistleblower protections, the Senate bill lacks several important provisions in the House bill, including the right to a jury trial in federal court and coverage of national security employees. On May 15, AALL joined 292 organizations on a letter to President Obama and Members of Congress in support of the House bill.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

New Congressional Research Service Report on State Secrets Privilege

June 4, 2009

Steve Aftergood at Secrecy News today posted a new Congressional Research Service (CRS) report, “The State Secrets Privilege and Other Limits on Litigation Involving Classified Information.” As we reported in the May edition of the Washington E-Bulletin, AALL signed on to a letter on May 20, 2009 to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT) and Ranking Member Jeff Sessions (R-AL) in support of the State Secrets Protection Act (S. 417). The CRS report provides a comprehensive look at the history of the state secrets privilege and current legislation, including S. 417.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

New State Bill Tracking Resource

June 2, 2009

A new page with resources to help you track legislation in your state was recently added to the AALL Government Relations Committee Web site.  The chart includes the dates of the state legislative sessions and links to free resources to help you track legislation in your state. If you know of a free bill tracking resource that isn’t on the chart, please send a note to the AALL Advocacy Listserv (subscribe here) or let me know and I will share it with the Government Relations Committee. Thanks!

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

May Washington E-Bulletin: Your Monthly Policy Round Up

June 1, 2009

The May edition of the Washington E-Bulletin is now available on our Web site.  This month, the Government Relations Office reviews the White House’s new Open Government Initiative; provides you with an update on the recent efforts of AALL and our New York chapters to support legislation to provide access to Congressional Research Service reports; and summarizes President Obama’s new Memorandum on classified and sensitive but unclassified information. In chapter news, we include a summary of the joint letter SNELLA and AALL sent to the Connecticut Appropriations Committee to oppose the proposed elimination of acquisitions funding for Connecticut Judicial Branch Law Libraries. Plus, there’s plenty to explore in the  “Free Time Well Spent” section to guarantee you’ll never get bored!

Here is the Table of Contents from the May Edition:


-White House Open Government Initiative Met with Mixed Reviews
-AALL and New York Chapters Send Letters in Support of Access to Congressional Research Service Reports
-Government Relations Office Director and AALL Member Testify Before Congress
-AALL Signs on to Letters in Support of Transparency and Accountability
-Government Relations Office Updates Presidential Records Issue Brief
-President Obama Issues Call to Reduce Overclassification


-SNELLA and AALL Send Letter to Connecticut Appropriations Committee on Court Library Funding Crisis

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

-Law Library of Congress Introduces New Web Resources
-Advisory Board Releases Recommendations on Privacy Policy
-Senate Votes Now Available in XML
-May News on the AALL Washington Blawg

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

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