Library Associations Support Nomination of Davita Vance-Cooks to Lead Government Printing Office

June 14, 2013

by Emily Feltren, Director of Government Relations

On June 11, the five major library associations – AALL, American Library Association, Association of Research Libraries, Medical Library Association and Special Libraries Association – submitted a statement for the record in support of Davita Vance-Cooks for Public Printer of the United States. The letter cites her extensive knowledge of the Government Printing Office (GPO) and her exceptional management skills, which we believe will allow her to effectively lead the agency in the digital age.

The letter states:

Since becoming Acting Public Printer in January 2012, she has led a rebranding of GPO as the “official, digital, secure resource for producing, procuring, cataloging, indexing, authenticating, disseminating, and preserving the official information products of the Federal Government.

In her role as Acting Public Printer, Ms. Vance-Cooks has established a positive and productive relationship with the library community. In May 2012, representatives from our library organizations joined Ms. Vance-Cooks to discuss our priorities and challenges. We appreciated the opportunity to share our concerns and ideas with her.

On June 12, the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration held a nomination hearing for Vance-Cooks. The hearing was chaired by Senator Angus King (I-Maine) and attended by Ranking Member Pat Roberts (R-Kans.) and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.). Committee Chairman Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) praised Vance-Cooks in a written statement, calling her “uniquely qualified” to lead the agency and urging his colleagues to move quickly to confirm her as the 27th Public Printer. Many other members of Congress have issued statements in support of her nomination, including the Democratic members of the Committee on House Administration who tweeted their support. If confirmed, Vance-Cooks would be the first woman and the first African-American to serve as Public Printer.


Major Library Associations Thank Committee on House Administration for Rejecting NAPA Suggestion to Charge for FDsys

May 30, 2013

by Emily

The five major library associations – AALL, American Library Association, Association of Research Libraries, Medical Library Association and Special Libraries Association — joined  together this week to thank the Committee on House Administration for opposing the suggestion in the National Academy of Public  Administration’s (NAPA) report, “Rebooting the Government Printing Office: Keeping America Informed in the Digital Age,” that GPO charge public user fees for FDsys. As we stated in February, charging for FDsys would violate AALL policy that digital government information disseminated via government websites must be available at no cost.

On May 21, the  Committee on House Administration sent a letter to Acting Public Printer Davita Vance-Cooks in support of GPO’s role in providing no-fee access to government information and rejecting the NAPA suggestion to charge end users for FDsys content. CHA’s statement is in line with the letter that the Acting Public Printer sent to Bernadine Abbott Hoduski and CASSANDRA in March saying that GPO would not charge the public for access to FDsys content. CHA’s letter was first announced during the Committee’s Legislative Data & Transparency Conference last week.

Operational Review of GPO Suggests Charging Users to Access Online Government Information

February 14, 2013

By Emily

The National Academy of Public Administration recently released the results of its 10 month independent operational review of the Government Printing Office (GPO), which was mandated by the 2012 Consolidated Appropriations Act (Public Law 112-74). A panel of 5 Academy fellows reviewed past reports; interviewed stakeholders in Congress, the printing industry and the library community (including me and AALL’s Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) Task Force chair Sally Holterhoff); and conducted an online survey of FDLP libraries. Ultimately, the Panel made 15 recommendations that are “designed to position the federal government for the digital age, strengthen GPO’s business model, and continue to build the GPO of the future.”

AALL supports several of the recommendations, including that Congress should establish a collaborative interagency process to develop and implement a government-wide strategy for managing the lifecycle of digital government information (Recommendation 1); that GPO should work with depository libraries and other library groups to develop a comprehensive plan for preserving the print collection of government documents (Recommendation 3); and that GPO should continue to work with the depository library community to develop a strategic plan for the FDLP (Recommendation 5). We were also pleased to see the Panel’s repeated acknowledgment of the public’s need for permanent public access to authentic government information in tangible and electronic formats.

However, we are very concerned about Recommendation 4, which states that “GPO and Congress should explore alternative funding models for the Federal Digital System in order to ensure a stable and sufficient funding source.” Funding models include reimbursement for services; fees for end users; dedicated appropriations; and/or an automatic charge to agencies, depending on size, to encourage agencies to take advantage of GPO’s existing infrastructure and cover the cost of the services being provided by GPO. By far, the suggestion to charge the end user (the public) to access FDsys content receives the longest explanation and causes the most concern. Charging for FDsys violates AALL policy that digital government information disseminated via government websites must be available at no cost. Implementing user fees for FDsys content would be a giant step backward in GPO’s efforts to promote democracy and “Keep America Informed.” As the report itself states, “free access of government information is an important tenet of a democracy.”  We agree, and strongly oppose any effort to charge the public for digital content created by the federal government.

Overall, the NAPA report supports GPO’s ongoing transition to “reboot” itself for the digital age and commends the agency for its progress in meeting the needs of 21st century government information users. AALL will continue to work with GPO, members of Congress, and our allies to ensure GPO has the support it needs to “produce, protect, preserve, and distribute documents of our democracy.”

Partners Join Together to Preserve Government Web Sites

August 19, 2008

Last week, the Library of Congress announced a collaborative project with the California Digital Library, the University of North Texas Libraries, the Internet Archive, and the U.S. Government Printing Office to provide permanent public access to and preserve public government web sites at the end of President Bush’s term in January 2009. According to the announcement, “This harvest is intended to document federal agencies’ online archive during the transition of government and to enhance the existing collections of the five partner institutions.” This exciting project will provide the American public with an important record of what the government looked like at this time.

While AALL is extremely pleased with this new collaboration and applauds these partner institutions, we continue to be disappointed that the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) will not conduct its own web harvests of federal agency web sites at the end of this presidential administration. As we wrote in the April Edition of the Washington E-Bulletin, NARA released a memorandum to agencies in March indicating that it would not harvest these web sites as it had done in the past, pointing to agencies’ responsibility to preserve their electronic records under the Federal Records Act. However, as we noted at the time, the preservation of records is not the same as a capture of agency web sites, since the latter provides the public with an image and understanding of the government during a specific period of time.

In April, AALL signed on to a letter to Allen Weinstein, the Archivist of the United States, urging him to rescind the decision and continue NARA’s web harvesting program. Unfortunately, NARA’s decision stands, making the new collaboration between the Library of Congress, the California Digital Library, the University of North Texas Libraries, the Internet Archive, and the U.S. Government Printing Office essential to providing permanent public access to and preserving the federal government’s digital information. We thank all of the partners for their strong commitment to digital preservation.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

AALL Testifies on GPO Funding at House Legislative Branch Appropriations Hearing

May 12, 2008

On May 7, Acting Washington Affairs Representative Mary Alice Baish testified before the House Committee on Appropriations’ Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch in support of the FY 2009 Appropriations Request of the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO). Mary Alice’s testimony, endorsed by the American Library Association and the Special Libraries Association, strongly supports GPO’s Salaries & Expenses ($43.42 M), which funds the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP), and Congressional Printing and Binding ($97.92 M), which funds the print publication of bills, hearings, reports and other congressional materials.

Mary Alice’s testimony [written testimony; oral testimony] urges the Subcommittee to agree to GPO’s $21.2 million request for the Federal Digital System (FDsys), GPO’s new digital system to manage Government information online. FDsys would replace the clunky, obsolete technology of GPO Access. We believe FDsys is essential to GPO’s future because it will ensure that the Federal government’s electronic information will be permanently available, authenticated and versioned, and accessible through the Internet.

Mary Alice’s testimony also highlights GPO’s progress in several areas due to the new functionalities available through FDsys. GPO has asserted itself as the source of trusted government information by adding digital signatures to certain electronic documents on GPO Access, thus ensuring the documents’ authenticity. This year, GPO launched an online collection of authenticated Public and Private Laws of the 110th Congress. In February, GPO digitally signed the 2009 Budget of the United States Government and published it in print after the Office of Management and Budget announced that it would only publish the budget online.

In addition, GPO is continuing its progress in automated web harvesting through FDsys to discover and capture online publications from agency web sites, building on its 2006 pilot project with the Environmental Protection Agency. These web harvests increase public access to web-based agency information and ensure its preservation.

Mary Alice reminded Subcommittee members that managing the life cycle of online information is expensive and requires dedicated resources. “It’s a myth to think that utilizing the Web to provide public access to reliable government information doesn’t carry a hefty price tag,” she told the Subcommittee. She ended her oral testimony by asking the Subcommittee members to fully support GPO’s FY 2009 funding request. “This year, I ask that you champion FDsys and, at the same time, support GPO’s other funding needs that are crucial to a robust information dissemination program,” she said. “The FDLP is your program, and we are counting on your help to keep it relevant in the 21st Century.”

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

AALL Washington Affairs Rep. to Testify Wednesday at House Legislative Branch Appropriations Hearing

May 6, 2008

Tomorrow, Mary Alice Baish, Acting Washington Affairs Representative of the American Association of Law Libraries, will testify before the House Committee on Appropriations’ Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch on the FY 2009 Appropriations Request of the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO). She will testify on behalf of AALL, the American Library Association, and the Special Libraries Association

Mary Alice also testified before this committee last year. At that time, she highlighted the needs of the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) in the 21st Century. This year, Mary Alice’s testimony will focus on the need to fund GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys). FDsys is GPO’s new, state of the art, digital system that we believe is essential to GPO’s future. Mary Alice’s testimony is embargoed until after the hearing but will be posted tomorrow afternoon.

The hearing will take place tomorrow, Wednesday, May 7, at 10:00 AM in 2359 Rayburn House Office Building. It will be webcast and available on the Subcommittee’s web site.

Witnesses will include:

(In Order of Appearance):

John G. Paré, Jr.
Executive Director for Strategic Initiatives
National Federation of the Blind

Dennis M. Roth
Congressional Research Employees Association

J. Kent Dunlap
Chief Negotiator
Library of Congress Professional Guild
AFSCME Local 2910

Hon. William Orton
American Bar Association

Randy Julian
2007 Chairman
National Tour Association

Jennifer Dexter
Assistant Vice President
Government Relations
Easter Seals

Ronald La Due Lake
Interim Council
U. S. Government Accountability Office Employees Organization/International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers

Matthew A. Tighe
Fraternal Order of Police
U.S. Capitol Police

Mary Alice Baish
Acting Washington Affairs Representative
American Association of Law Libraries

John E. Elfrey
LL2135 International Association of Machinists
Government Printing Office

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

AALL Applauds Chief Justice Roberts for Support of PACER Pilot Program

March 6, 2008

AALL President Ann T. Fessenden recently wrote a letter to Chief Justice John Roberts, thanking him for his leadership in establishing a joint pilot project to provide free public access to federal court records at selected depository libraries. The joint project between the Administrative Office of the United States Courts (AOUSC) and the Government Printing Office (GPO) provides free public access to the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system, which allows users to obtain case and docket information from Federal Appellate, District and Bankruptcy courts online. The new pilot project will allow users to avoid the usual fees for access to the federal court records by using PACER at sixteen depository libraries, including ten law libraries in fourteen states.

In 2006, the AALL Executive Board endorsed a “Resolution on No-Fee FDLP Access to PACER” which requested that the Government Printing Office work with the AOUSC to allow users of federal depository libraries to access PACER at no-fee. AALL has long supported the Federal Depository Library Program and access to government information and we applaud Chief Justice Robert for his leadership on the joint project.

The federal depository libraries participating in the pilot are:

7th Circuit Court of Appeals Library, IL
Alaska State Court Law Library, AK
Fordham Law School, NY
Lee College, TX
New Mexico Supreme Court Law Library, NM
Northern Kentucky University, KY
Nova Southeastern University Law Library, FL
Portland Public Library, ME
Rogers State University, OK
Rutgers Law Library, NJ
Sacramento County Public Law Library, CA
San Bernadino County Law Library, CA
State Library of Ohio, OH
University of Michigan School of Law, MI
University of Tennessee College of Law, TN
Wayne State University, MI

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

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