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
President
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
Chair
Interim Council
U. S. Government Accountability Office Employees Organization/International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers
AFL-CIO and CLC

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
Vice-President
LL2135 International Association of Machinists
Government Printing Office

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

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House Hearing on Executive Branch Electronic Communications Preservation

April 23, 2008

The House Oversight and Government Reform’s Subcommittee on Information Policy, Census, and National Archives will hold a hearing today to address the Electronic Communications Preservation Act (H.R. 5811), sponsored by Chairman of the Committee Henry Waxman (D-CA-30), Chairman of the Subcommittee Wm. Lacy Clay (D-MO-1), and Rep. Paul Hodes (D-NH-2). The bill directs the Archivist of the United States to establish standards for the capture, management, retrieval, and preservation of White House e-mails and other electronic communications. The Committee’s Press Release, summary of the bill, and full text of the bill is available here.

Patrice McDermott, Director of OpenTheGovernment.org, will testify about the state of the preservation of electronic records and the National Archives and Records Administration’s (NARA) oversight responsibilities. OpenTheGovernment.org recently assisted Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) with data collection for their new report, “Record Chaos: The Deplorable State of Electronic Record Keeping in the Federal Government.” Findings of the report include: federal agencies are not keeping up with modern electronic records management methods; there is widespread confusion among federal employees about their obligations regarding record keeping; and there is a lack of meaningful oversight of the agencies by NARA.

This hearing was originally scheduled for April 16, but canceled at the last minute. Assuming the witness list stays the same, the witnesses will include:

The Honorable Allen Weinstein
Archivist of the United States
National Archives and Records Administration

Dr. Anna K. Nelson
Director
American University – Department of History

Witness to be announced
Government Accountability Office

Patrice McDermott
Director
OpenTheGovernment.org

The hearing will take place at 2pm in 2154 Rayburn House Office Building. According to Committee staff, a live webcast should be available on the Committee website.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]


Sunshine Week and Open Government Resources

March 25, 2008

On Wednesday, March 19, OpenTheGovernment.org and AALL co-sponsored the third annual Sunshine Week National Dialogue on Open Government and Secrecy, “Government Secrecy: Censoring Your Right to Know.” The event was a great success! The program was webcast live from the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. to sites and individuals around the country. There were over one hundred attendees at the National Press Club, twenty-two host site events which included hundreds of participants around the country, and over seven hundred registrants for the webcast. You can now watch the archived version of the webcast on the National Press Club site. The webcast will soon be permanently available on OpenTheGovernment.org’s website.

Thanks to all of the law libraries and chapters that participated in the event: Lake County Law Library (OH); the Lyon County Law Library (KS); the Westminster Law Library at Sturm College of Law, University of Denver; the Law Librarians of Puget Sound (LLOPS) with the Washington State Library; and the Northern California Association of Law Libraries (NOCALL) with the San Francisco Bay Region Chapter of the Special Libraries Association. Many thanks also to all of the volunteers and participants! We are thrilled that so many AALL members took part in the event this year.

To continue the momentum towards sunshine at the local, state, and national levels, OpenTheGovernment.org put together a fantastic set of resources on open government issues. Resources are organized by subject and include books and articles on Executive privilege, information and democracy, and information technology issues. OpenTheGovernment.org also put together a list of recent legislation on disclosure and open government with links to more information about the bills.

After this year’s successes, we happily look forward to Sunshine Week 2009!

[Posted by Emily Feldman]


Celebrate Sunshine Week!

March 18, 2008

Now is the time to celebrate Sunshine Week! Sunshine Week is a national initiative to open a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information and there are many ways to participate! Sunshine Week officially began on March 16, James Madison’s birthday.

Although the following events take place in the Washington, D.C. area, many of them will be webcast or podcast and available wherever you are!

Events this week include:

Tonight, Tuesday March 18:

Associated Press President and CEO Tom Curley will address Freedom of Information and other open government issues during a Sunshine Week dinner event at The National Press Club. The dinner is being jointly presented by Sunshine Week and the Eric Friedheim National Journalism Library.

Wednesday, March 19

OpenTheGovernment.org and AALL are sponsoring the third annual Sunshine Week National Dialogue on Open Government and Secrecy. This year’s panel discussions will focus on “Government Secrecy: Censoring Your Right to Know.” The event will be webcast for free from the National Press Club. Sites around the country will be hosting viewings and discussions.

Thursday, March 20

The Sunlight Foundation and Omidyar Network will host a discussion with Lawrence Lessig, law professor and director of the Stanford Center for Internet and Society. Lessig will introduce a plan called “Change Congress,” designed to increase congressional transparency. The lecture is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. at the National Press Club and will also be available via webcast.

Yesterday, the Washington College of Law’s Collaboration on Government Secrecy held its First Annual Freedom of Information Day Celebration and a podcast of the event will be made available in the near future. In addition, on Friday, March 14, the First Amendment Center hosted the 10th annual National FOI Day Conference at the Newseum. Read about that event here.


Bring More Sunshine to Your State!

March 4, 2008

Sunshine Week 2008 [March 16-22] is quickly approaching and you are invited to participate! AALL is co-sponsoring the National Dialogue on Open Government and Secrecy with OpenTheGovernment.org for the third year in a row, and we are looking for host sites to show the webcast! This year, the program, “Government Secrecy: Censoring Your Right to Know,” will be webcast live for free (also available via satellite downlink for a fee) from the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on March 19 from 1-2:30pm EDT. Audience members at all sites will have an opportunity to call in and email questions to the panels. If you are not able to show the program live, you may show it at a later date.

In addition to hosting viewings of the national program, host sites are encouraged to organize audience discussions or panel presentations after the national program on local open government issues. Sites can now register until March 18. If you are interested in hosting or have questions please contact: Chris Green, Program Associate, OpenTheGovernment.org.

We are pleased to report that the following chapters and law libraries are hosting events: the Lake County Law Library (OH); the Lyon County Law Library (KS); the Westminster Law Library at Sturm College of Law, University of Denver; the Law Librarians of Puget Sound (LLOPS) with the Washington State Library; and the Northern California Association of Law Libraries (NOCALL) with the San Francisco Bay Region Chapter of the Special Libraries Association.

Sunshine Week began in 2005 as a national initiative led by the American Society of Newspaper Editors to open a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information.

This year’s program, “Government Secrecy: Censoring Your Right to Know,” will be in 2 parts:

I. The Secret Executive — What Can Congress and the Public Do?

This panel will address executive branch power and secrecy, congressional rights and responsibilities, and the role of the press in combating government secrecy.

Speakers:
Patrice McDermott (Moderator): Director of OpenTheGovernment.org.
Anne Beeson: Director of U.S. Programs at the Open Society Institute and
previously Associate Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Mickey Edwards: Director of the Aspen Institute-Rodel Fellowships in Public Leadership and former Republican member of Congress from Oklahoma for 16 years (1977-92)
John Podesta: President and Chief Executive Officer of the Center for American Progress, Chief of Staff to President William J. Clinton from October 1998 until January 2001, and formerly in senior staff positions in Congress

II. Citizen Self-Help: Finding the Information You Need

-We will be visiting and talking with creators of web sites that make hard-to-find government information easy for the public to find and use and hopefully inspire you to do likewise!
-A report will be given on an initiative to develop a 21st Century Right-to-Know agenda and recommendations for the next President and Congress.

Speakers:

-Greg Elin (Sunlight Labs) (Moderator)
-Bill Allison (Sunlight Foundation)
-Sheila Krumholz (Center for Responsive Politics/OpenSecrets.org)
-David Moore (OpenCongress.org)
-Sean Moulton (FedSpending.org)
-Daniel X. O’Neil (EveryBlock)
-Gary Bass (OMB Watch)

In each segment, opportunities will be available for audience questions from all participants.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]


Save the Date for Sunshine Week!

February 5, 2008

AALL is pleased to announce that we are once again co-sponsoring the National Dialogue on Open Government and Secrecy during Sunshine Week 2008 and we are looking for host sites and co-sponsors for local programs! The national program, “Government Secrecy: Censoring Your Right to Know,” will be webcast from the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on March 19 from 1-2:30pm EDT to sites around the country. This is the third national dialogue sponsored by OpenTheGovernment.org, and each year the Washington Office has helped organized the program and recruit law libraries across the country to host events in their communities.

HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED:

Many AALL members have hosted or co-sponsored events in the past and we hope even more participate this year! In fact, we’re making it even easier for you this year: the webcast will be free! A satellite downlink (for better picture quality) will also be available for $250. Registration ends March 7.

(1) Host Sites: Host sites should be able to receive a streaming video feed and show the national program to an audience of, ideally, 5 to 500 people. Working with other local sponsors, hosts are encouraged to organize an audience discussion or panel presentation after the local program to discuss open government from a community perspective.

And/Or

(2) Local Program Sponsors: Sponsors may work with host sites to plan local programs to follow the national program.

The event will be in two segments:

I. The Secret Executive — What Can Congress and the Public Do?

This panel will address executive branch power and secrecy, congressional rights and responsibilities, and the role of the press in combating government secrecy.

Confirmed Speakers:
Patrice McDermott (Moderator): Director of OpenTheGovernment.org. Previously the Deputy Director of the Office of Government Relations at the American Library Association Washington Office and senior information policy analyst for OMB Watch.
Anne Beeson, Director of U.S. Programs at the Open Society Institute and
previously Associate Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Mickey Edwards: Director of the Aspen Institute-Rodel Fellowships in Public Leadership and former Republican member of Congress from Oklahoma for 16 years (1977-92)
John Podesta: President and Chief Executive Officer of the Center for American Progress, Chief of Staff to President William J. Clinton from October 1998 until January 2001, and formerly in senior staff positions in Congress

II. Citizen Self-Help: Finding the Information You Need

-We will be visiting and talking with creators of web sites that make hard-to-find government information easy for the public to find and use and hopefully inspire you to do likewise!
-A report will be given on an initiative to develop a 21st Century Right-to-Know agenda and recommendations for the next President and Congress.

In each segment, opportunities will be available for audience questions from all participants.

If you are interested in hosting or have questions please contact: Chris Green, Program Associate, OpenTheGovernment.org.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]


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