July Issue of the Washington E-Bulletin

July 30, 2010

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


• Welcome to Our New Readers!


• Thanks to You, the Denver Advocacy Training Was a Great Success!
• 2010 Annual Meeting “AALL Public Policy Update” Highlights Our  Key  Policy Activities and Accomplishments
• Chapter Leaders Gather in Denver for Roundtable on Government Relations
• NCCUSL Drafting Committee Approves Draft Authentication and Preservation of State Electronic Legal Materials Act
• AALL Scores Department of Justice Revised Open Government Plan
• U.S. Archivist Ferriero Announces Task Force on Open Government and E-Records Management


• New Case Study: California County Law Librarians Protect Law Library Funds

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

• Cost of Classification Continues to Rise
• National Declassification Center Releases Inaugural Report
• President and Vice President Daily Public Schedules Now on WhiteHouse.gov

House Oversight Subcommittee Examines Federal Records Implications of Web 2.0

July 23, 2010

On July 22, the House Oversight and Government Reform Information Policy, Census and National Archives Subcommittee held a hearing on “Government 2.0: Federal Agency Use of Web 2.0 Technologies.”

Chairman William Lacy Clay (D-MO-1) explained in his opening statement the three goals of the hearing were to: gain an understanding of what is meant by Web 2.0 in the Federal government; recognize the Federal records management implications of these new technologies; and identify what areas of Web 2.0 need further exploration by the Committee.

United States Archivist David Ferriero was the first witness. He discussed NARA’s guidance on Federal e-records management, including the 2005 guidance on managing Web records and the 2006 guidance on the use of new Web technologies, including RSS feeds, blogs and wikis. NARA will be issuing a new Bulletin on Web 2.0 and Social Media Platforms this fall that will expand on how agencies’ use of social media platforms may impact records management. NARA is also currently conducting a study on Federal agencies’ use of Web 2.0 technologies to identify what kinds of records agencies are creating and their potential long-term value.

Gregory Wilshusen, Director of Information Security Issues at the Government Accountability Office (GAO), testified on the challenges that Web 2.0 has created for agencies in  identifying what records to preserve, and how, as well as the privacy implications of these new technologies. He also spoke about uncertainties that Web 2.0 records have created for agencies in responding to FOIA requests, because it is not always clear whether agencies control Web 2.0-generated content and whether the information created actually constitutes federal records.

Chairman Clay had previously requested that GAO conduct a review of the management and protection of information collected and maintained by third party social media providers such as Facebook and Twitter. Since that review has just begun, Wilshusen could not yet comment on its findings. We’ll let you know when that report is released.

David McClure, Associate Administrator of the Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies at the General Services Administration, testified on the important role Web 2.0 can have in easing outreach to the public, and the challenges that these third party applications can create since they are not built exclusively for government use. Finally, John Simpson of Consumer Watchdog expressed his concerns about the risks that third party Web 2.0 technologies present for consumer privacy.

This hearing was the first in a series on Federal agencies’ use of Web 2.0 and the e-records management challenges it creates. We’ll keep you updated as future hearings occur.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

A Closer Look at the “Future of FOIA”

July 22, 2010

On Tuesday, July 13, during the Annual Meeting in Denver, AALL Government Relations Committee member Susan Nevelow Mart moderated a panel discussion on “The Future of FOIA” (J1). The program featured Miriam Nisbet, Director of the new Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), and Anne Weismann, Chief Counsel for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).

Employing an engaging, conversational style format, the speakers highlighted recent changes in FOIA and the important work of OGIS in mediating FOIA disputes and offering training to agencies. Ms. Nisbet thanked AALL for supporting the creation of OGIS as part of the OPEN Government Act of 2007 (P.L. 110-175) and ensuring that it was housed at NARA.

Ms. Nisbet gave an overview of the work that her office, which was established in September 2009, has been doing to help requestors and educate agencies, and her hopes to continue to expand outreach to members of the public and agencies. She explained that in this era of “information inflation,” it’s especially important to train agency personnel so that they can be more responsive to FOIA requests.

Ms. Weismann, a FOIA litigator, discussed some of the positive changes to FOIA under the Obama Administration. She noted that, “When Obama took office, it was like coming out of a very long, very dark tunnel.” OGIS, she said, “represents a bright spot on the FOIA horizon” and “fundamentally changes the relationship between the requestor and agency.”

Ms. Weismann discussed the excitement that open government advocates felt when President Obama released his Memorandum on the Freedom of Information Act and Attorney General Holder followed up with guidance for agencies. However, she expressed her continued frustration  that while a lot of the pieces to improve FOIA have been put in place, there’s still a long way to go to change the culture of secrecy in government, even under the Obama Administration. For example, the Administration has continued to use some of the same arguments of the Bush Administration in several court cases with CREW, and initially refusing to disclose White House visitor logs. (The White House later changed its position and began posting online the records of visitors in September 2009.)

Susan Nevelow Mart has compiled a very valuable guide to FOI Resources on the Internet to help law librarians, academics and members of the public find more information about FOIA. It  includes links to the Web sites of agencies, universities and nonprofit organizations that host FOIA documents, as well as FOIA blogs and wikis. Thank you, Susan, for putting together this helpful resource and moderating this excellent program!

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

AALL Participates in Audit of Revised Open Government Plans, Revealing Significant Improvements

July 21, 2010

AALL contributed to a second audit organized by OpenTheGovernment.org to rank executive agencies’ Open Government Plans, which were initially released on April 7 as required by the Obama Administration’s Open Government Directive (OGD). Agencies were given the opportunity to revise their plans by June 25, and 23 of the 39 agencies evaluated during the audit released revised plans by the June deadline.

Using the same criteria employed in the first round, the auditors rated the extent to which agencies’ revised plans met the OGD’s requirements and provided bonus points for exceeding the requirements.

The audit found that most agencies made significant steps to improve their plans. The Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency met all of the OGD requirements, and earned bonus points.

The Department of Justice moved from the lowest ranking to a respectable spot at number 8. DOJ responded positively to feedback and made important steps to include required links and identify high value data sets. Significantly, DOJ has promised to make publicly available its collection of digital legislative histories and to provide access to significant court filings through its Web site.

The auditors are now developing metrics to evaluate how agencies implement their Open Government Plans. AALL and the other auditors will continue to work closely with agencies to ensure that they follow through on their promises to create a more open government.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

AALL Annual Meeting – See You in Denver!

July 8, 2010

For those of you attending AALL’s 103rd Annual Meeting, we hope you’ll join us for the open meetings of our public policy committees and the many policy programs offered by those committees and the Government Relations Office.

These meetings and educational programs will provide you with an inside look at AALL’s top policy priorities, including an update on the Association’s leadership role in the development of a draft uniform state law on digital authentication and preservation, and an analysis of the Obama Administration’s progress on the Freedom of Information Act. You’ll also hear about the many exciting plans in store for 2010-2011. We look forward to seeing you in Denver!


Copyright Committee Meeting
Sunday, July 11, 2010 • 12:00 p.m. – 1:15 p.m. Hyatt-Agate A

Electronic Legal Information Access & Citation Committee Meeting
Sunday, July 11, 2010 • 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. Hyatt-Agate A

Government Relations Committee Meeting
Monday, July 12, 2010
12:00 p.m. – 1:15 p.m. Hyatt-Capitol Ballroom 1

Chapter Leadership Roundtable: Government Relations
Monday, July 12, 2010 • 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. CCC-Room 602


C3: A Vision for the Future: Authenticated and Official Online Legal Resources
Sunday, July 11, 2010 • 4:15 p.m. – 5:15 p.m.
CCC-Room 201-203

F2: In PKI We Trust: Authenticating Our Future
Monday, July 12, 2010 • 10:45 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.
CCC-Room 108-112

G3: AALL Public Policy Update (Formerly the Annual Legislative and Regulatory Update)
Monday, July 12, 2010 • 4:00 p.m. – 5:15 p.m.
CCC-Room 201-203

I1: Ten Things Every Law Librarian Needs to Know About Copyright
Tuesday, July 13, 2010 • 10:45 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
CCC-Room 102-106

J1: The Future of FOIA
Tuesday, July 13, 2010 • 2:15 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.
CCC-Room 102-106

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

The New USA.gov- Now with Social Networking, Apps and More

July 7, 2010

The General Service Administration (GSA) just launched a complete redesign of the government’s web portal, USA.gov. The launch of the new site follows months of online public dialogue to determine users’ preferred format, functionality and design. Thank you to those of you who participated in the discussion on their blog!

The new USA.gov offers a simplified, cleaner look. One of the first things you’ll probably notice about the new site is the large search bar at the top of the screen. In the middle of the homepage, you’ll see a real-time list of the most popular topics that people are searching for.

The very useful Reference Center includes links to historical documents; laws and regulations; local, federal, and national libraries; and online library databases.

The new site also offers new apps, including one that monitors product recalls and another that tracks flight information from the Transportation Security Administration.

At the bottom of each page, you’ll find ways to connect with USA.gov through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more. You can also subscribe to RSS feeds from the Federal Citizen Information Center and USA.gov.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

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