NEWS FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY
JUNE 2002

Table of Contents

  1. Bush Nominates Bruce R. James to be Public Printer
  2. The Removal and Destruction of Federal Depository Library Documents (ARL Memo)
  3. More on USA Patriot Act of 2001
  4. OMB Bulletin Threatens GPO Depository Program
  5. GPO Response
  6. ALA Shares More Responses
  7. Presidential Records Act of 2002 Update
  8. Bush Government Information Policy in the News
  9. Spencer Abraham Sends First Digitally Signed Document to the President
  10. GovBenefits.gov Launched
  11. Government Web Site Use
  12. New Web Site for Comments on Proposed Rules and Regulations In the Works
  13. U.S. Government Information : Make the Connection at a Federal Depository Library
  14. Book Review for Government Documents Librarians
  15. National Archives Releases 1930 Census Schedules
  16. VIS Releases New Congressional Report Cards
  17. Preserving Government Information


Bush Nominates Bruce R. James to be Public Printer

On March 29, 2002, President Bush announced his intention to nominate Bruce R. James to be Public Printer. James, a graduate of Rochester Institute of Technology, was CEO of Barclays Law Publishers until he retired in 1993 at the age of 51. He is the Chairman of the Congressional Roundtable of Printing Industries of America, a trustee of the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, a former President of Printing Industries of California (a trade association for more than 7,000 printing firms), executive board member of the Government Affairs Council of the Printing Industries of America, and member of the Information Industry Association and World Affairs Council.

For more background information on the nominee, see http://www.rit.edu/~930www/Proj/NewsEvents/1998/May02/james.html.

Source: ALAWON, Volume 11, Number 27, April 8, 2002.

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The Removal and Destruction of Federal Depository Library Documents (ARL Memo)

Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, federal, state, and local agencies have been grappling with issues relating to access to government information. The delicate balance between responding to concerns relating to homeland security while ensuring public access to government information presents new challenges to many libraries. What limitations, if any, should be on access to selected government information resources? Are there criteria to consider as to whether information resources should be publicly available? Similarly, many libraries that participate in the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) are concerned that changes may be forthcoming in the information access and dissemination policies of federal agencies.

On March 14, 2002, ARL released a memo ( http://www.arl.org/info/frn/gov/Susman.html) prepared by Thomas Susman of Ropes & Gray that responds to questions raised by a number of ARL directors. It addresses important questions concerning the removal and/or destruction of federal depository library documents, including public access to copies of withdrawn FDLP materials. The memo reviews the legal responsibilities of both the federal depository libraries and the Government Printing Office while highlighting a number of key policy considerations.

Source: E-News for ARL Directors: Part Two, Federal Relations, April 24, 2002.

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More on the USA Patriot Act of 2001

The "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act" (Patriot Act) was designed to broaden the surveillance and other capabilities of law enforcement following the terrorist attacks of September 11. Library and higher education organizations held a one-day workshop on December 14 to analyze the act and its implications for the community. During the day's sessions led by legal counsels from the participating organizations, the group discussed specific sections of the act that raise issues for libraries as Internet Service Providers (ISPs). For more information on anti-terrorism legislation and related issues, see http://www.arl.org/info/frn/other/ATL.html.

Source: E-News for ARL Directors: Part Two, Federal Relations, April 24, 2002.

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OMB Memo Threatens U.S. Depository Program

The May 9th edition of Roll Call has an article by Jennifer Yachnin and Kelly Fiela about GPO and the new OMB memo on printing privatization. See "GPO Won't Challenge Printing Rules" at http://www.rollcall.com/pages/news/00/2002/05/news0509f.html.

Source: Jennifer Manning, GOVDOC-L, May 9, 2002.

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GPO Response to Roll Call Announcement

Many people read newspapers only by skimming the headlines. They assume the headlines adequately summarize the information contained in the articles that follow. Unfortunately, I'm afraid that won't work with your article "GPO Won't Challenge Printing Rules" (May 9, 2002), which is likely to leave many people with the distinctly wrong impression.

GPO does indeed intend to challenge OMB's proposed regulatory change to the Federal printing rules, which currently are governed by statute. Public Printer DiMario outlined that challenge at yesterday's hearing before the Senate's Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee. In GPO's view, OMB's plan will raise the executive branch's printing costs, close off Government contract opportunities for most small business printers, and impair public access to Government documents through Federal depository libraries. It will also increase congressional printing costs and result in lost jobs for many GPO employees.

Yesterday, Mr. DiMario said that GPO intends to convey this message to OMB through the legal process for commenting on proposed regulations under the Administrative Procedures Act. He also said he thought many others would do the same. The fact that he did not announce a lawsuit shouldn't have mislead your headline writer into concluding that GPO intends to roll over on this extremely important matter. Those who took the time to read the otherwise fine article that followed will quickly realize that fact.

Source: Andrew M. Sherman, Director, Congressional and Public Affairs, GPO. GOVDOC-L, May 9, 2002.

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More Information About OMB Memorandum M-02-07

Government documents librarians following the latest developments related to OMB Memorandum M-02-02 may want to review the printing industry's report on the OMB memo at http://members.whattheythink.com/gporeport.html and the response of Andy Sherman (Director, Office of Congressional and Public Affairs at GPO), at http://members.whattheythink.com/home/gpo.cfm.

Source: ALAWON, Vol. 11, no. 42, May 16, 2002.

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Presidential Records Act Amendments of 2002 Update

Last week, the House Committee on Government Reform, Subcommittee on Government Efficiency, Financial Management and Intergovernmental Relations scheduled a mark-up of Representative Stephen Horn's (R-CA) legislation, "The Presidential Records Act Amendments of 2002" (H.R. 4187) for May 22. The bill is designed to overturn President Bush's Executive Order 13233 that establishes new procedures for implementation of the Presidential Records Act (PRA). Now, however, we learn due to White House pressure, the mark-up is postponed until after the Memorial Day recess. This gives the White House time to derail the measure.

Several weeks ago, passage of the bill out of the House Committee by a wide partisan margin was virtually assured as a growing number of Democrats and Republicans were adding their names to the list of co-sponsors. Now, however, the Bush Administration is beginning to swing into action. Already they have persuaded at least one Republican member to withdraw his co-sponsorship of the bill. The apparent strategy is to divide the Republican co-sponsors so that when the measure passes out of Committee next week, it will appear not to have strong bi-partisan support.

Source: NCC WASHINGTON UPDATE, Vol. 8, #20, May 21, 2002.

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Bush Government Information Policy in the News

Since Sept. 11, the Bush administration has moved quicker than any administration since World War II to make secret government activities, documents and other information. Though no one objected to “national security” concerns at first, critics from the left and right now say these secrecy efforts reflect opportunism rather than security concerns. “We seem to be shifting to the public’s need to know instead of the public’s right to know,” says one observer.

"Secure Often Means Secret", article by Laura Parker, Kevin Johnson, and Toni Locy, USA Today, May 16, 2002, http://www.usatoday.com/usatonline/20020516/4116384s.htm

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Spencer Abraham Sends First Digitally Signed Document to the President

Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham two weeks ago became the first Cabinet member to send a digitally signed document to President Bush. The paper recommended that the Yucca Mountain in Nevada serve as a national nuclear-waste storage site.

Thanks to a system developed by VeriSign, with the aid of Adobe Systems, Abraham sent the more than 9,500-page report in a PDF file directly to Bush, saving taxpayers an estimated $1 million in printing costs, according to VeriSign.

Abraham's signature was graphically shown in the transmitted document and encoded with a digital "key" that linked his signature to a VeriSign system for authentication.

Source: Maureen Sirhal, "First digitally signed document a harbinger of e-government", National Journal's Technology Daily, March 4, 2002.

Full story: http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/0302/030102td1.htm

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GovBenefits.gov Launched

The U.S. Department of Labor officially launched GovBenefits.com, a Web site designed to simplify access to information about government aid and other benefit programs, on April 29, 2002. Users enter the site and check boxes indicating, for example, that they are unemployed or the victim of a disaster. A series of yes-or-no questions about the situation follows, and then the site produces a list of government programs and benefits for which the user may be eligible, with contact information for each program.

The site does not require a user to disclose his or her name, Social Security number, or other personal identifying information.

Although the site initially provides links to only 55 assistance programs, Labor and the Office of Management and Budget, which jointly created the project, intend to expand the site's resources by 30 to 40 programs a month, culminating in links to 300 programs.

Interestingly enough, GovBenefits.gov is the first site launched by the administration since President Bush issued a directive for improving e-government in his February budget submission to Congress and reportedly cost $1 million to implement.

Future plans include linking to state and local programs.

Source: Pete L. Zanko, Washington Post, April 30, 2002, Page A17.

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Government Web Site Use

Sixty-eight million Americans have used government web sites according to a survey released in April 2002 by the Pew Internet and American Life Project in Washington. That's up from 40 million users two years ago. Recreational information was the most sought-after data on the sites, drawing 80 percent of the users. About 53 million people use government web sites to help plan vacations.

Source: Wilson P. Dizard III, Government Computer News, April 29, 2002; http://www.gcn.com/21_9/e_gov/18484-1.html.

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New Web Site for Comments on Proposed Rules and Regulations In the Works

A Web site that will allow the public to submit comments electronically on the federal government’s proposed rules and regulations will be up and running by the end of the year, the Office of Management and Budget announced Monday.

“Millions of Americans want to easily find and comment on proposed regulations,” said Mark Forman, OMB’s associate director for information technology and e-government. “This action means that, by the end of this year, the public will no longer need to navigate through a sea of agency Web sites to comment on regulations that will impact their lives.”

The rulemaking portal is part of OMB’s e-government initiative. It will consolidate proposed and interim rules from all federal agencies on one Web site, making them easier to find and eliminating the need for maintaining multiple Web sites across the federal government, OMB Director Mitch Daniels wrote in a May 3 memo to agency and department chiefs. Though the Federal Register prints proposed, interim and final agency rules, it does not allow people to respond through its site, and the information printed in the publication is not limited to rules and regulations, an OMB spokeswoman said.

The Transportation Department will lead the new initiative, working with other agencies to develop a plan to eliminate redundant rulemaking systems. Once the Web site comes online, agencies will be responsible for providing it with their proposed rules, the OMB spokeswoman said.

Source: Tanya N. Ballard, GovExec.Com, May 9, 2002, http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/0502/050702t1.htm, and OMB Memo M-02-08: http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/memoranda/m02-08.pdf.

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U.S. Government Information : Make the Connection at a Federal Depository Library

In today’s dynamic environment of information access, it is crucial to the future of the FDLP that both the library community and the public at large understand and appreciate its value as an information resource and point of service for everyone.

In response to the need for higher visibility for the program, and in response to a recommendation from the Council, we have drafted a new promotion plan for the FDLP. The goal of this plan is to increase public awareness of the unique contributions and benefits of Federal depository libraries, especially in this time of increased availability of Government information online. Target audiences for this plan include the general public, business, government, and the library community.

The plan has a proposed campaign theme: "U.S. Government Information – Make the Connection at a Federal Depository Library." The focus will be on free access to the public, the quantity and variety of Government information available in print and electronic formats in depository libraries, and the services provided by depository librarians in finding this information. Print and broadcast public service announcements, news releases and feature articles, and a variety of promotional materials will be used to publicize the campaign. Depository librarians, GPO bookstores and congressional offices will also use the promotional materials.

Source: Francis Buckley, Jr., Depository Library Council Meeting, Mobile, Al., April 22, 2002.

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Book Review for Government Documents Librarians

Here's an excerpt from a recent book review appearing in the Detroit Free Press that I thought might appeal to Godort of Michigan Round Table readers!

"The really wise men and women of Washington know the key to understanding the capital isn't to monitor poll results, or to watch the president's Oval Office schedule, or even to chronicle the movement of legislation in Congress. The real insights into how Washington come at meetings of the House Ways and Means and the Senate Finance Committees.

There the full panoply of the Washington spectacle is evident: the lobbyists sitting dutifully with their yellow legal pads, the quiet transformtion of seemingly innocuous items into binding law, the fateful movement of millions and billions of dollars that, in an instant, deliver political prizes by creating tax shelters and entrepreneurial opportunities, and by affecting the economic climate and millions of subtle business decisions.

The business of American politics is business, and now Kevin Phillips, a leading Republican theorist, has written a guidebook to how the great fortunes were made, fostered or shaped by politics.

If interested, request the following book at your favorite library or bookstore: Wealth and Democracy: The Politics of the American Rich by Kevin Phillips, Broadway, 473pages, $29.95.

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National Archives Releases 1930 Census Schedules

In 1930, when life expectancy in the United States was less than 60 years, compared to 77 now, census enumerators gathered information across America during the dawn of the Great Depression. Those time capsules of records, collected 72 years ago and eagerly anticipated by genealogists, were released by the National Archives on April 1.

Highlights from the 1930 census included:

In order to protect the confidentiality of individual census records, the Census Bureau and the National Archives withheld the release of these records to the public until 72 years after the census in which they were collected [92 Stat. 915, Public Law 95-416; October 5, 1978]. The original 1930 documents were destroyed long ago, but not before their photographic images were transferred to rolls of microfilm in 1944 and 1945 and kept in locked vaults at the National Archives.

For more information concerning the 1930 census and related topics, see http://www.census.gov/pubinfo/www/1930census_media.html. Source: Census Bureau Press Release No. 02-CN.62, March 28, 2002.

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New VIS Congressional Report Cards Released

The latest update of VIS Congressional Report Cards, a non-partisan, Web-based voter education tool from Voter Information Services of Reading, Ma., is now available at: http://www.CongressionalReportCards.org.

The goal of the Report Cards is to help interested citizens find out what kind of legislation each member of the U.S. Congress supported or opposed.

Each Report Card is an easy-to-understand report that combines a Congress member's voting record and the position on legislation of one or more advocacy groups.

This update contains data from:

(*) denotes new advocacy groups

For the current list of all advocacy groups and scores, visit http://www.vis.org/visweb/Scripts/top.asp?com=ListGroups.

VIS Congressional Report Cards are available on the Web at either http://CongressionalReportCards.org or http://www.vis.org.

Source: VIS Press Releases, March, 2002.

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Preserving Government Information

How much can we rely on public documents being permanently available on agency web sites? One indicator is how agencies themselves view their websites. An article about last week's "FedWeb 2002" conference focuses on records retention polices and gives a facinating glimpse of the variety of ways that different agencies view the information they post on the web.

EPA believes all its static pages, graphics, and databases are federal records, and the Energy Information Administration keeps a registry of its site content so that if someone inquires about a document that was removed staff members can track it down.

But the Federal Reserve Board views the agency's site as a bulletin board and "just a distribution medium."

And Consultant J. Timothy Sprehe said he doesn't believe all things on agency Web sites are public records, especially if they're copies of paper documents.

For more information, see "What on Web merits saving?" by Patricia Daukantas, Government Computer News, May 27, 2002, currently available at http://www.gcn.com/21_12/news/18754-1.html.

Source: Jim Jacobs, Data Services Librarian, University of California, San Diego, GOVDOC-L, May 29, 2002.

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