September Issue of the Washington E-Bulletin

September 30, 2010

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


  • Last Call! Register TODAY for Free AALL Webinar on National Inventory on October 6


  • Thanks to Your Help, Congress Approves Bill to Repeal SEC FOIA Exemption
  • AALL Urges Senate Committee to Pass E-Records Bill before Congress Adjourns
  • AALL and NOCALL Support Need for Public Access to Constitution Annotated in XML
  • Public Interest Declassification Board Holds Hearing to Examine Potential Role of Technology to Ease Declassification

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

  • 2010 Secrecy Report Card Reveals Greater Transparency in Federal Government
  • CREW Finds Bush White House Ignored Warnings about Threat to Email
  • Government Accountability Office Uncovers Serious Deficiencies with OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

Thurgood Marshall Law Library Adds to Commission on Civil Rights Collection

September 30, 2010

The Thurgood Marshall Law Library at the University of Maryland School of Law recently added twenty new documents to their digital collection of historical publications from the United States Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR). The Library’s collection is a partnership of the Government Printing Office, the USCCR and the Thurgood Marshall Law Library.

Some of the latest additions include:

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

Congress Passes Harman Bill to Reduce Overclassification

September 29, 2010

Earlier this week, the House and Senate voted to approve the Reducing Over-Classification Act (H.R. 553), introduced in January 2009 by Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA-36) and amended by Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-CT). The bill, as amended, includes the following requirements to reduce overclassification in the Federal government:

  • The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security must designate a “Classified Information Advisory Officer” to improve information sharing with state, local, tribal and private sector entities that have responsibility for the security of critical infrastructure.
  • Inspectors general of departments which classify information must work with the Information Security Oversight Office to carry out at least two evaluations by 2016 to assess their department’s classification policies, procedures, rules and regulations.
  • The heads of departments which classify information must institute annual training for each employee who has original classification authority.

According to AALL’s Government Relations Policy, “Statutes and regulations governing security classification should be construed to promote open government while acknowledging the need for FOIA exemptions.” AALL strongly supports H.R. 553 and we are pleased with its passage. For more information about current classification policy in the Federal government, please read our Issue Brief.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

New Report Finds Agency Progress on Rulemaking; Problems with Process Remain

September 22, 2010

A report released this week by 2008 AALL Public Access to Government Information (PAGI) award winner OMB Watch examines the Obama Administration’s approach to rulemaking. OMB Watch finds that the new Administration’s rulemaking record shows a marked philosophical change from the Bush era’s tendency toward deregulation, and most agencies have made significant strides to better protect the public. However, OMB Watch concludes that the Administration has not done enough to reform the rulemaking process, relying instead on the Clinton-era Executive Order 12866 on regulatory planning and review.

This is the first report in a series of three. The final report will focus exclusively on the regulatory process, including issues of transparency, participation, regulatory analysis, and scientific integrity. We will let you know when that report is released.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

Enhancing Public Access to the Constitution Annotated

September 17, 2010

Today, AALL joined twenty open government groups on a letter to Senate Committee on Rules and Administration Chairman Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) and Ranking Member Bob Bennett (R-UT) and Committee on House Administration Chairman Robert A. Brady (D-PA-1) and Ranking Member Dan Lungren (R-CA-3) urging that the Constitution Annotated be published online in XML format each time it is updated.

The Constitution Annotated is publicly available online in plain text and PDF formats and is updated every two years. The Congressional Research Service (CRS) maintains the document in XML format and regularly updates it.

After the Sunlight Foundation and Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) sent letters last year requesting that the XML version of the Constitution Annotated be made available online, CRS and the Government Printing Office held discussions regarding its publication.

Today’s letter urges the Rules and House Administration Committees to reaffirm and direct that this valuable resource be made available to the public online in XML format each time it is updated.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

Constitution Day and Citizenship Day

September 17, 2010

Each year, September 17 marks Constitution Day and Citizenship Day. This holiday is celebrated around the country in recognition of the signing of the United States Constitution on September 17, 1787.

The late Senator Robert Byrd introduced legislative language into the omnibus spending bill in 2004 to establish this holiday. The law requires that each educational institution that receives federal funds hold an educational program on the Constitution for students on September 17 of each year (or during the week, if the holiday falls on a weekend) on the history of the Constitution.

The Law Library of Congress provides many resources to help you celebrate Constitution Day and Citizenship Day. Resources include:

The Law Library also includes the Constitution in its Guide to Law Online, and a resource guide to the Constitution.

If your law library is involved in a Constitution Day event, please let us know!

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

October Webinar ~ Populating the National Inventory of Primary Legal Materials

September 16, 2010

As AALL President Joyce Manna Janto announced in her September E-newsletter today, AALL is hosting a free Webinar on October 6, from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. CDT, Come One, Come All! Your Help Needed to Populate the National Inventory of Primary Legal Materials.

This training session is for all 250 of our State Working Group volunteers, as well as members of AALL and our chapters who are not yet involved. Speakers include:

Emily Janoski-Haehlen – Assistant Director of Research & Online Services, Northern Kentucky University Salmon P. Chase College of Law Library

Kentucky State Working Group coordinator Emily Janoski-Haehlen, immediate past chair of the Electronic Legal Information Access & Citation Committee, will explain how the national inventory supports the Association’s commitment to equitable, no-fee, permanent public access to authentic legal information on government Web sites.

Joan Bellistri – Law Librarian, Anne Arundel County Public Law Library

Maryland State Working Group coordinator Joan Bellistri will offer tips and strategies to help working groups get organized and divide up the work to meet deadlines. She will also share her experience setting up the Maryland Google Group for her volunteers to exchange information.

Sarah Glassmeyer – Faculty Services and Outreach Librarian, Valparaiso University School of Law Library

Indiana State Working Group coordinator Sarah Glassmeyer will explain how easy it is to use Google Docs to populate your inventory. She will also share her tips and tricks for making the form and spreadsheet work for you.


You’ll come away from the Webinar with a greater understanding of how the national inventory supports AALL policy and goals, and with the confidence and skills you need to complete your state’s inventory.

To take advantage of this exciting opportunity, please register today!

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

2010 Secrecy Report Card Indicates Trend toward Greater Openness

September 7, 2010 released its seventh annual Secrecy Report Card today, showing that secrecy across a wide array of measures has continued to decrease since President Obama took office in January 2009. For example, FOIA backlogs were reduced by 40 percent government-wide in Fiscal Year (FY) 2009, and the number of “original classification decisions” – the source of newly classified information – decreased almost 10 percent.

Despite these positive findings, one troubling trend stands out: there is a growing backlog of declassified records in the Federal government. This year’s report found the declassification rate government-wide fell from 61 percent of all material reviewed in 2008 to 55 percent in 2009.

It is important to note, however, that because the Secrecy Report Card is limited to FY2009 data, it does not reflect the recent efforts of the new Administration to target this backlog. Specifically, President Obama’s December 2009 Executive Order on Classified National Security Information established the vital National Declassification Center at NARA. AALL applauded the creation of this new center, which will help improve access to government information by making public by the December 31, 2013 deadline more than 400 million pages of classified records. According to the NDC’s first report, 8 million pages of material have already been processed and made available to the public since the NDC opened its doors January 2009.

AALL is a founding partner of and Director of Government Relations Mary Alice Baish serves on its Steering Committee. AALL is committed to working with OTG to promote transparency at all levels of government.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

Law Library of Congress Adds Enhancements to THOMAS

September 2, 2010

The Law Library of Congress announced this week the third major upgrade of 2010 to THOMAS. Important updates include a new mobile-friendly homepage that provides access to enhanced functionalities, and a new map of state legislature Web sites that links you to bill-tracking resources at the state level. Kudos to the Law Library for continuing to add new useful features to THOMAS!

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

August Issue of the Washington E-Bulletin

September 1, 2010

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


  • Webinar: Come One, Come All! Your Help Needed to Populate the National Inventory of Primary Legal Materials
  • Action Alert: Your Help Needed On Three “Must-Pass” Bills


  • Members of Congress Speak Out in Support of Net Neutrality
  • House Oversight Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Public Access to Federally-Funded Research
  • Copyright Committee Posts New Issue Briefs on Google Book Settlement and DMCA Exemptions


  • GRC Liaisons Connect Chapters and SISs with AALL’s Advocacy Team

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

  • Law Library of Congress Digitizes Piracy Collections
  • New CRS Report Examines Role of the Director of National Intelligence
  • Government Accountability Office Report Highlights Need to Address Cyber Threats

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

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