October Edition of the Washington E-Bulletin

October 30, 2009

October has been a busy month in Washington, D.C. To catch up on all of the news from the Government Relations Office, please read through the jam-packed October edition of our Washington E-Bulletin.

This month the E-Bulletin includes our Action Alert on free online access to CRS reports, updates about the PATRIOT Act reauthorization process and net neutrality, and more. As always, there’s chapters news (this time from LLSDC and the Council of California County Law Librarians) and lots of interesting reading for all of you information policy junkies out there.

Here is the Table of Contents from the October edition:


-AALL Advocacy Webinar Is a Success


-Your Help Needed To Get Free Online Access to Congressional Research Service Reports


-Update on USA PATRIOT Act Reauthorization Process and New Issue Brief
– XML of the Federal Register Is Now Available
-FCC Moves Forward on Net Neutrality
-Open Government Provision in DHS Appropriations Act Strengthens FOIA
-Senate Homeland Security Committee Approves Archivist Nomination
– New FOIA Mediation Office Launches Web site


-LLSDC Hosts D.C. Government Official to Discuss Online Regulations and D.C. Register
-Update to California County Law Library Code Sections

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

-New Report on Developing State Data.gov Portals
-Guidelines for Agencies on the Secure Use of Social Media
-New Executive Order Restores Power to Intelligence Oversight Board
-National Security Archive Launches New Blog
-Congressional Research Service Report Surveys Supreme Court Justices
-Communicating with Congress through Online Town Halls

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

USA.gov Improves Its List of Government Blogs

October 20, 2009

USA.gov has reorganized the list of blogs on its U.S. Government page to make them easier to find. The blogs are now organized by subject into categories such as Reference and General Government, History, Arts, and Culture, Business and Economics and Public Safety and Law.

The list of blogs includes some that we’ve featured here on the Blawg, including NARA’s new blog, NARAtions, and the White House’s Open Government Blog.

Hat tip to Resource Shelf.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

Take Action to Help Get Free Online Access to CRS Reports

October 16, 2009

On Wednesday, October 14, AALL held a free online advocacy training session, Join AALL’s Advocacy Team: How to Deliver Our Message, with Director of Government Relations Mary Alice Baish, Advocacy Communications Assistant Emily Feldman, and “Advocacy Guru” Stephanie Vance. Thanks to all of you who made our Webinar a success! Webinar resources are now available in AALL’s Advocacy Toolkit and the recorded Webinar will soon be available on AALL2go.

As we explained during the Webinar, we need your help to urge your senators and representatives to support legislation in the Senate (S. Res. 118) and House (H.R. 3762) that would provide the public with free online access to Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports.

In the Senate, we need you to put pressure on Sen. Schumer (D-NY), Chairman of the Rules and Administration Committee, to bring S. Res. 118 before the committee immediately. In the House, we need your help in getting additional co-sponsors for H.R. 3762.

We have issued an Action Alert that makes it easy for you to write to your members of Congress. The Alert includes our specific asks, sample emails, and links to the Webmail forms of your members of Congress so that you can start writing an email with just a click of your mouse.

We hope you’ll take a few minutes to write to your members of Congress. With your help, we can keep the momentum going on this important issue.


Mary Alice Baish and Emily Feldman

White House, GPO and NARA Collaborate on Release of XML Version of Federal Register

October 6, 2009

On Monday, the White House announced the official launch of the XML version of the Federal Register (FR), now available from 2000 to the present through GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys), the Federal Register Web site and Data.gov. Access to the XML will allow third parties to manipulate the government data in innovative ways, and we applaud the White House, the Government Printing Office and the National Archives and Records Administration’s Office of the Federal Register (OFR) for making this exciting development possible.

There are important distinctions between the XML versions available on FDsys and Data.gov. Data.gov is limited to full-year XML downloads, while FDsys offers the ability to quickly and easily download the Federal Register by day, month or year. By providing these options, FDsys may better fit user needs.

In addition, FDsys also provides access to the official, digitally signed PDF version of the Federal Register, in addition to the XML.

We were pleased to see that a new disclaimer has been added to the description for all of the FR datasets and tools on Data.gov explaining this important distinction:

The current XML data set is not yet an official format of the Federal Register. Only the PDF and Text versions have legal status as parts of the official online format of the Federal Register. The XML-structured files are derived from SGML-tagged data and printing codes, which may produce anomalies in display. In addition, the XML data does not yet include image files. Users who require a higher level of assurance may wish to consult the official version of the Federal Register on FDsys.gov. The FDsys data set includes digitally signed Federal Register PDF files, which may be relied upon as evidence in a court of law. See: http://www.fdsys.gov/fdsys/browse/collection.action?collectionCode=FR

AALL has worked closely with GPO for many years to ensure that the public has permanent access to official, authentic online legal information, and we have strongly supported the development of FDsys. We applaud GPO for its leadership in authenticating the online version.

[Posted by Mary Alice Baish and Emily Feldman]

Senate Judiciary Committee Holds Mark-Up of USA PATRIOT Act Reauthorization Legislation

October 2, 2009

The Senate Judiciary Committee held an Executive Business Meeting yesterday to consider legislation to reauthorize the three expiring provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act. You can view the Webcast of the mark-up here.

The original bill scheduled to be considered, the USA PATRIOT Act Sunset Extension Act of 2009 (S. 1692), would raise the standard for all Section 215 orders by requiring that the government demonstrate a connection between the tangible records they seek and a suspected terrorist, and add more meaningful judicial review of Section 215 orders and the associated gag orders.

Prior to  the mark-up, Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT), one of the original co-sponsors of S. 1692 along with Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Sen. Ted Kaufman (D-DE), negotiated a new bill  with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. The substitute bill, which is also co-sponsored by Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), Ted Kaufman (D-DE), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Amy Klobucher (D-MN) weakens  several provisions of the original bill, including certain protections for civil liberties. It also drops the higher Section 215 standards for business records that were in the original bill, with the exception of library records.

Although we are disappointed with the weaker language, AALL is pleased that we did get the higher standard for libraries included in the negotiated bill. The Judiciary Committee will hold another mark-up next Thursday and we will keep you updated on the status of the reauthorization legislation.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

Webinar~ Join AALL’s Advocacy Team: How to Deliver Our Message

October 1, 2009

As AALL President Cathy Lemann announced in her September AALL E-newsletter, AALL is hosting a free online advocacy training session in October, Join AALL’s Advocacy Team: How to Deliver Our Message. The Webinar will take place on Wednesday, October 14, from 1-2 p.m. EDT.

Mary Alice Baish, Director of Government Relations, will describe two of AALL’s policy priorities: free access to Congressional Research Service reports through the Internet, and the government’s responsibility for authenticating and preserving online legal resources.

Emily Feldman, Advocacy Communications Assistant, will familiarize you with the Government Relations Office’s informational and advocacy Web tools.

“Advocacy Guru” Stephanie Vance, who was the guest speaker at AALL’s 2009 Day on the Hill, will explain how to effectively develop your messages to your legislators and strategies to take action.

Whether you’re a novice or experienced advocate, this online training will provide you with practical tools to take your skills to the next level. Please register today!

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

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