Coalition Calls on Congress to Reform Intelligence Practices

November 22, 2013

By Elizabeth

AALL signed on to a letter sent yesterday to Congressional leadership urging that intelligence surveillance practices be reformed by “limiting the scope of surveillance and by substantially enhancing the privacy protections, oversight, and accountability mechanisms that govern that surveillance.” The letter, signed by a diverse group of civil society groups, trade associations, companies and investors, was received by party leadership in the House and Senate and the chair and ranking members of the House and Senate Judiciary and Intelligence Committees.

The letter urges Congress to limit the scope of surveillance practices, reject bulk collection, and to substantially enhance the privacy protections, oversight and accountability mechanisms that govern surveillance. Signatories endorse the USA FREEDOM Act, which promotes these goals, and oppose “legislation that codifies sweeping bulk collection activities.”

Library Associations Thank GPO for “Keeping America Informed” During Shutdown

November 7, 2013

By Elizabeth

Together with the American Library Association (ALA), Association of Research Libraries (ARL), and Special Libraries Association (SLA), the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) today sent a letter to Public Printer Davita Vance-Cooks in appreciation of the Government Printing Office’s commitment to continued public access to official, authentic government information during the recent federal government shutdown.  The letter includes AALL member anecdotes, collected by the Government Relations Committee, that demonstrate the impact of the shutdown on librarians and their patrons.

While many federal agency websites were suspended during the shutdown, GPO’s website, Catalog of Government Publications, and FDsys were available and updated with Congressional information, demonstrating GPO’s critical role in ensuring the full electronic life cycle of digital content. In the letter, the four library associations urge GPO to ingest more agency content into FDsys and to continue to harvest agency websites. Unlike information on government websites, information published on FDsys is permanently available, authenticated, versioned, searchable, and downloadable. In the case of another government shutdown, we encourage GPO to highlight agency resources that have been ingested.

The Joint Committee on Printing and House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Legislative Branch have been copied on the library associations’ letter, which will serve as a valuable reminder of the critical role of agencies like GPO in providing public access to government information. If you have not yet shared your stories of the shutdown with your members of Congress, we encourage you to do so today using AALL’s Legislative Action Center.

White House Commitments Would Expand Access to Information

November 5, 2013

By Elizabeth

During last week’s Open Government Partnership (OGP) meeting in London, the Obama administration released a preview of its U.S. Open Government National Action Plan 2.0 (NAP). While the second NAP will not be finalized until December 2013, six new commitments to further advance the goals of transparency and accountability in the federal government were announced. They include expanding open data, increasing fiscal and corporate transparency, advancing citizen engagement, more effectively managing public resources, and most significantly, modernizing the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

In the White House’s own words, “the FOIA encourages accountability through transparency and represents a profound national commitment to open government principles. Improving FOIA administration is one of the most effective ways to make the U.S. Government more open and accountable.”  In its new commitment, the administration pledges to implement a consolidated online FOIA portal that allows the public to submit a request to any Federal agency from a single site, develop common FOIA regulations and practices across agencies, and create an interagency working group and advisory committee to improve FOIA processing. FOIA professionals and agency staff will also receive improved FOIA trainings.

The draft OGP plan also includes a commitment to re-launch with an expanded index of all agency data sets and special campaigns to unlock agricultural, nutrition and disaster-related data. In an effort to make government data more accessible and useful, federal agencies will also be required to develop an inventory of their data and publish a list of datasets that are public or can be made public. Under the title “Managing Government Data as a Strategic Asset”, the plan pledges that agencies will also develop new mechanisms to solicit public feedback regarding open government data.

AALL applauds the administration for their continued commitment to transparency reforms and we look forward to the release of the second National Action Plan. Access to government information is crucial to a just, democratic society and informed citizenry. AALL will continue to work with the administration and other organizations to promote policies, regulations, and guidance which encourage openness, transparency, and public participation.

November Washington E-Bulletin

November 1, 2013

The November issue of the Washington E-Bulletin is now available on AALLNET.


Vol. 2013, Issue 11





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