February Issue of the Washington E-Bulletin

February 26, 2010

The February issue of the Washington E-Bulletin is now available on AALLNET. Here is the Table of Contents:


• Volunteers Still Needed for AALL’s State Working Groups
• Join Us for 2010 Advocacy Training in Denver: Raising the Bar in Your State
• New Issue Brief Analyzes Agency Progress on Open Government Directive
• Government Relations Office Director Testifies on GPO’s FY 2011 Budget Request
• Congress Adopts One-Year Extension of Expiring PATRIOT Act Provisions
• New Speakers Added to Sunshine Week National Webcast


• Update on Progress to Save Connecticut’s Courthouse Libraries
• NOCALL and Lyon County Law Library Plan Exciting Local Sunshine Week Events

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

• NARA Official Says National Declassification Center Could Solve Major Obstacles
• Experts Provide Online FOIA Analysis
• Report Shows Online Transparency Drives Trust and Participation in Government
• OMB Watch Webcast Series Assesses Obama Administration’s Progress at One Year

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

Baish Testifies in Support of Government Printing Office’s FY 2011 Budget Request

February 25, 2010

On Wednesday, February 24, Mary Alice Baish, Director of the AALL Government Relations Office, testified at the public witness hearing before the House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch in support of the U.S. Government Printing Office’s (GPO) Fiscal Year 2011 budget request.

Mary Alice addressed several important issues in her oral testimony, including the need:

  • To fund fully the Congressional Printing and Binding request so that federal depository libraries can continue to have the option of receiving Congressional materials in print.
  • To fund FDsys at the requested $8 million so that GPO can complete the migration of the GPO Access system into FDsys. We are especially anxious for the entire e-CFR to be migrated into FDsys.
  • To encourage GPO and the Library of Congress to enter into a formal Memorandum of Understanding to partner on the digitization of historic legal resources.
  • For GPO to capture content from agency Web sites to be ingested into FDsys as part of their mission to provide access to current government information.

This was Mary Alice’s fourth year in a row testifying before the Subcommittee in support of GPO’s budget request. Her testimony was very well-received by the Subcommittee, whose members asked a number of insightful questions.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

Agencies Release Open Government Web pages to Meet Second Directive Deadline

February 23, 2010

Agencies passed another important milestone of the Open Government Directive (OGD) on February 6 with the release of their Open Government Web pages, located at http://www.[agency].gov/open. These Web pages will be an integral part of creating the culture of open government that is the driving force behind the Directive.

By visiting an agency’s Open Government Web page, members of the public can follow the agency’s progress on the Directive and provide specific ideas (through online public dialogue sites) about how the agency can promote openness. Agencies must consider these public comments when developing their Open Government Plans, which will describe how they will improve transparency and integrate public participation and collaboration into their activities. The Plans, which are the cornerstone of the OGD, must be posted on each agency’s Open Government Web page for public comment by April 7.

February 6 also marked the deadline for the new Open Government Dashboard, where the White House will track and assess agencies’ progress in meeting the OGD deadlines. AALL and other open government groups are working with the White House to develop metrics to measure how well agencies are meeting their goals. On February 18, we signed on to an email to Todd Park, Chief Technology Officer at the Department of Health and Human Services, in response to “bonus criteria” he presented for scoring agency Open Government Plans. We had a number of suggestions for the basic content of agency Web sites, including that every agency should be required to have a comprehensive, well-maintained, and searchable archive of documents, including those that have been removed from the Web site. The email also suggested minimum criteria with which to judge agencies’ progress.

AALL has published a new Issue Brief that tracks and analyzes the progress agencies have made on the OGD so far. We will keep this Issue Brief updated as agencies continue meet the OGD’s ambitious goals.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

Will you help AALL ensure access to electronic legal information in your state?

February 22, 2010

The Government Relations Office is looking for members of AALL and our chapters to volunteer to participate in an exciting initiative to promote equitable, no-fee, permanent public access to authentic online legal information in every state.

Over the last several months, AALL state working groups have begun to form around the country to respond to the growing trend of state officials to eliminate print official legal resources in favor of online-only, often in response to state budget woes. This trend is highlighted in the 2009-2010 updates to AALL’s 2007 State-by-State Report on Authentication of Online Legal Resources

Thanks to the support of many of you, the GRO is pleased to report that we already have more than 115 AALL and chapter members from 42 states and the District of Columbia who have signed up for their state’s working group, but we need still need more volunteers.

Can we count on your help? We invite you to:

  • Volunteer for your state’s working group, through which you’ll have the opportunity to collaborate on an effort led by Erika Wayne at Stanford University’s Robert Crown Law Library and Carl Malamud of Public.Resource.Org to develop a national inventory of all primary legal resources at every level of government.

  • Join the GRO and Government Relations Committee this summer in Denver for our half-day Legislative Advocacy Training, “Raising the Bar in Your State,” where we’ll address AALL’s most important state policy priorities.  

During our half-day Advocacy Training on Saturday, July 10, from 8:30 a.m.-12 p.m, working group volunteers will come together with other AALL and chapter members to discuss the challenges and successes the state working groups face. Participants will also have time to brainstorm effective ways to prove the value to state officials of our public law libraries during these difficult economic times.

Readers of the Blawg know that ensuring access to electronic legal information is one of AALL’s top policy priorities, and we’re counting on you to help make this state initiative a success. To participate in your state’s working group and/or to attend the Advocacy Training, which is available at no cost to AALL and chapter members, please contact me by June 1.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

Host a Local Event for Sunshine Week 2010

February 4, 2010

For the fifth year in a row, AALL is co-sponsoring the annual Sunshine Week Webcast with OpenTheGovernment.org, and we’re again looking for sites and co-sponsors to host local programs.

AALL chapters and members have always been a key part of making Sunshine Week a success. Chapters and law libraries around the country are invited to show the Webcast in their communities and host local discussions following the national program. The live event will be webcast for free from the Center for American Progress on March 19 from 12-2pm EDT. You are welcome to show the program at a later date if the live event conflicts with your spring break.

The theme for the 2010 Sunshine Week Webcast is “Building Transparency.” The program will include a discussion of the Obama Administration’s progress on its transparency initiatives, an update on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the new Office of Government Information Services (OGIS), and a look at how state and local organizations are using government data. Guest speakers will include Norm Eisen, Special Counsel to the President for Ethics and Government Reform, and Miriam Nisbet, Director of OGIS. There will also be time for questions from the live audiences around the country.

NOCALL has already put together an exciting event with the California Library Association, the California Association of Library Trustees and Commissioners, and the Special Libraries Association/Sierra-Nevada Region on March 24 at Pacific McGeorge School of Law.  The program will begin with a viewing of the archived Webcast, followed by lunch and a panel of exceptional guest speakers.

Please contact me if your library or chapter is interested in volunteering to be a host site or co-sponsor. We will be happy to connect you with others in your area who are interested in hosting programs, including the local League of Women Voters.

We look forward to working with you to bring more sunshine to your state.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

Your Feedback Needed on New Datasets Added to Data.gov

February 2, 2010

Last month, agencies were required by the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) Open Government Directive to post at least three “high value” datasets on Data.gov.

The Government Relations Office has developed a short survey on the usefulness of these new datasets to your work.

We need your feedback so that we can inform the White House and OMB on which datasets are the most valuable to legal researchers. This is a special opportunity to share your views with a receptive White House that is eager to hear your opinions.

We’d like to know which datasets are most useful to you, which datasets are not currently in Data.gov that you would like to see added, and how you or your library is using content from any of the datasets. For example, we want to know if your library has used the XML versions of the Code of Federal Regulations or the Federal Register to develop new tools.

We encourage you to take advantage of this unique opportunity to share your thoughts with the White House on this new transparency initiative. Please take a few minutes to fill out our survey by February 12.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

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