NEWS FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY
SEPTEMBER - DECEMBER

Table of Contents

  1. GPO's New Titles by Topic Expands Categories
  2. Blackout: What If You No Longer Had Access to the Internet
  3. Library Groups Fear Loss of Access
  4. NARA Overwhelmed by Federal Digital Onslaught
  5. Washington Post Reports on GPO Controversy
  6. Washington Post Reports 2002 Economic Censuses at Risk
  7. Library Advocacy Groups Protest Secrecy on Library, Bookstore, FBI Subpoenas
  8. ACLU, ABFFE File Freedom of Information Request on Domestic Spying
  9. Is the GPO Endangered?
  10. Despite Opposition, Printing Policy Change on the Way
  11. Getting Information From State Web Sites at a Price
  12. DOE/OSTI Proposes Eliminating PubScience
  13. Additional Articles in the News


GPO's New Titles by Topic Expands Categories

The U.S. Government Printing Office has announced new categories for the New Titles By Topic E-mail Alert Service. Users can now sign up to receive e-mail announcements of new Federal publications available for sale from the Superintendent of Documents related to "Employment and Occupations" and "Federal Statistics".

Subscribers to the third list, FDLP Electronic Only Titles Available for Sale, will be notified when Federal depository library publications have migrated to an electronic format and are available for purchase in tangible format from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore. A review of titles declared electronic only during the past several years was conducted to determine which of those titles are available for sale. The first few mailings on this LISTSERV will identify electronic only publications that are still available for purchase. The initial four e-mails will include a publication's title, stock number, SuDocs number, price, and an order link. Postings to this LISTSERV will begin on July 22, 2002.

Subsequent e-mails will include newly declared electronic only titles available for purchase. These messages will include a publication's title, short description, thumbnail image of the publication (if available), stock number, SuDocs number, price, and an order link.

In order to meet customer expectations for pricing and availability, the archive of postings for this LISTSERV will be purged after three months. For more information or to sign up, go to http://bookstore.gpo.gov/alertservice.html.

Source: GOVDOC-L, July 18, 2002.

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Blackout: What If You No Longer Had Access to the Internet

"When seventy-one thousand employees in Interior’s 14 bureaus arrived at work on Dec. 6, they found their online connection to the outside world broken. Most could send e-mail to colleagues in the same bureau, but not elsewhere in the department or outside. Employees could access some of their own bureaus’ Web pages, but no others. No one outside the bureaus could connect to any Interior Web pages. “The Internet has become so crucial to not only the Department of Interior, but to the country at large,” Owens says. “I don’t think we fathomed what the impact would be initially or how long we would be off.”

Many documents librarians who found they could no longer access Department of Interior web pages may enjoy reading this article from the May 2002 issue of Government Executive about the amazing events that happened last winter.

Source: The article by Brian Friel also appears in GovExec.Com, May 1, 2002. http://www.govexec.com/features/0502/0502s1.htm

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Library Groups Fear Loss of Access
If White House Proposal is Adopted

A White House proposal that would allow private companies to compete with the Government Printing Office (GPO) has raised fears among freedom of information advocates and library associations that the public will find it harder to gain access to government information.

The proposal by Mitch Daniels, director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), would revise Federal Acquisition Regulations that require the executive branch to use GPO to print its documents. OMB says its plan will save the government millions of dollars. The congressional Joint Committee on Printing will review the matter on July 10.

The proposed change comes after the Bush administration ordered federal depository libraries to destroy information deemed sensitive to national security, such as data about hazardous waste sites and water supplies, in the wake of Sept. 11.

More than 1,300 federal depository libraries, including at least one in every congressional district, keep such information. The proposed change would not affect printing of congressional documents, such as the Congressional Record and committee reports.

Nevertheless, both GPO and freedom of information advocates said the most important effect of the change proposed by OMB would be to limit the public’s access to information.

For the complete article by Sarita Choreu appearing in The Hill, July 24, 2002, see http://www.thehill.com/071002/library.shtm.

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NARA Overwhelmed by Federal Digital Onslaught

The torrent of electronic records being generated by federal agencies has overwhelmed the ability of the nation's official recordkeeper, the National Archives and Records Administration, to identify and preserve them, a congressional audit concludes.

While agencies churn out millions of electronic documents, e-mail messages, Web pages and databases that qualify as official records, NARA continues a policy of printing electronic records on paper to preserve them, the General Accounting Office said in a June 17 report to Reps. Stephen Horn (R-Calif.) and Ernest Istook (R-Okla.).

But those that get printed represent only a fraction of the records agencies create.

GAO auditors said that less than 10 percent of the "mission-critical" data systems they examined at four agencies had been placed in an inventory, so neither agency officials nor archivists from NARA knew what government records the systems contained, how important they might be or how long they should be saved.

Thus, some records may be kept longer than necessary and others may be deleted while they are still needed for legal, fiscal or administrative purposes, the GAO report says.

In a separate study, NARA itself examined 11 agencies and found "instances where valuable permanent electronic records were not being appropriately transferred to NARA's archives" because they had not been appraised or identified as important enough to be deemed permanent records.

GAO auditors said NARA's "policies and processes on electronic records have not yet evolved to reflect the modern recordkeeping environment." And despite repeated efforts by NARA to clarify its rules on electronic records, the guidelines remain confusing.

NARA requires federal agencies to do two things: maintain an inventory of all agency information systems to identify items that qualify as records and "schedule" the records, which means determining how long they must be kept and how they must be disposed.

Those things are seldom done, the GAO report says.

For the full report, see Challenges in Managing and Preserving Electronic Records, GAO-02-586, June 2002, available at http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d02586.pdf.

For more information, see William Matthews article in the June 19, 2002 issue of Federal Computer Week available at http://www.fcw.com/fcw/articles/2002/0617/web-nara-06-19-02.asp.

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Washington Post Reports on GPO Controversy

The Government Printing Office (GPO) is a quiet but historic institution with a heritage dating back to Benjamin Franklin. It is responsible for printing the multitude of documents produced by the federal government, including passports, bills passed by Congress, Supreme Court rulings, and the annual U.S. budget.

These, along with a host of government pamphlets, are all managed by the 141-year-old GPO, which is legally mandated as the sole clearinghouse for most federal documents - 70 percent of the work is then contracted out to private printers.

But soon one of the nation's biggest publishing operations may be printing news of its own demise. All 130 federal departments and agencies using the GPO have been ordered by the White House's Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to arrange their own printing beginning September 1.

For more background, see the article "Will Printing Office Be Inked Out? : OMB Orders Federal Agencies to Arrange Own Publishing", Helen Rumbelow, Washington Post, July 31, 2002, P. A17; http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A23968-2002Jul30.html.

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Washington Post Reports 2002 Economic Censuses at Risk

An article in the August 1st issue of the Washington Post blames spending on homeland security for endangering the economic census scheduled for December 2002. To find the money for homeland security spending, the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on commerce kept spending levels for other programs close to last year's totals. Since the economic census is conducted every five years, spending had to rise significantly to allow for this project in the next fiscal year. The full Appropriations committee has already approved the figures and the House Appropriations subcommittee on commerce is allocating even less for statistical programs. Commerce officials are quoted as saying they might postpone the census for a year and hope for more funding later. The article also discusses the important role the economic census plays in improving the accuracy of other statistics, especially gross domestic product.

For the full article by John M. Berry, see "Senate Spending Bill Puts Economic Census at Risk", Washington Post, August 1, 2002, E06. For the time being, it is available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A28712-2002Jul31.html. Thanks to Alan Zoellner, Government Information Librarian, Earl Gregg Swem Library, College of William and Mary, for reporting this development in GOVDOC-L, August 2, 2002.

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Library Advocacy Groups Protest Secrecy
on Library, Bookstore, FBI Subpoenas

Last week, a coalition of groups representing authors, book publishers, and booksellers criticized the U. S. Justice Department for refusing to reveal publicly how many times it has used its power under the U.S.A. Patriot Act to force bookstores, libraries, and newspapers to reveal confidential records, including the titles of books an individual has purchased or borrowed.

"The Patriot Act has a potentially chilling effect on the First Amendment rights of bookstore customers because it gives the FBI the power to investigate what people are reading," said American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression President Chris Finan. "The refusal of the Justice Department to tell us how many times it has used this power is even more unsettling because it naturally leads to the suspicion that it is using it a lot."

In June, 2002, House Judiciary Committee leadership, Representatives F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-WI) and John Conyers Jr., (D-MI) sent Attorney General John Ashcroft a list of 50 questions on how the Justice Department is exercising the greatly expanded investigatory powers it received under the Patriot Act -- including subpoenas for bookstore, library, and newspaper records.

On August 15, the NEW YORK TIMES reported that in response, in a letter to the House Judiciary Committee dated July 26, Assistant Attorney General Daniel J. Bryant said that the number of bookstore and library subpoenas, and much of the other information that the Committee had sought in its effort to exercise oversight of the implementation of the Patriot Act, is confidential and will be only turned over to the House Intelligence Committee. (which does not have oversight responsibility for the Act)

Literary advocacy groups, including PEN American Center, the Association of American Publishers, and the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, expressed deep concern over the Justice Department's decision. In their letter -- sent on August 19, 2002 to House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner and John Conyers, the Committee's Ranking Democrat -- the book groups emphasized that Section 215 of the Patriot Act could have a chilling effect on the First Amendment and urged the Committee to pursue its efforts to ensure that the Justice Department does not abuse its new power.

"The secrecy surrounding the issuance of search warrants pursuant to Section 215 and the lack of any adversarial proceeding... are an open invitation to abuse of governmental power in the absence of proper oversight," they wrote.

"An individual's right to read without the government looking over his shoulder is the most basic right in a free society. If we allow this freedom to be abridged in the interest of law enforcement, we have a right to demand the most stringent standards of judicial and Congressional oversight," said Judith Platt, who directs the Association of American Publishers' Freedom to Read Program.

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ACLU, ABFFE File Freedom of Information Request on Domestic Spying

On August 21, 2002 -- saying that the American people have a right to know how the government is using its extraordinary new surveillance powers -- the American Civil Liberties Union, jointly with the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, filed a Freedom of Information Act request asking that the Department of Justice provide information about the pervasiveness of domestic spying.

Under the Patriot Act, investigators can compel booksellers or librarians to turn over private information about their customers and patrons. A bookseller can be ordered to turn over a list of the books a customer has purchased. A librarian can be compelled to report what books a patron has borrowed and, if the library has computers, what Web sites he or she has visited. The orders which compel libraries and bookstores to disclose these records can be issued following secret hearings at which a special court hears only the government's case. The law also forbids booksellers and librarians to make public even the fact that they have received such orders.

In their letter to the House Committee on the Judiciary, Patricia S. Schroeder President and Chief Executive Officer Association of American Publishers; Christopher F. Finan, President American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression; and K. Anthony Appiah Chair, Freedom to Write Committee, PEN American Center, thanked the Committee for its intent to exercise careful oversight of the U.S.A. Patriot Act's implementation.

"We have been deeply concerned from the outset about provisions in the USA PATRIOT Act that threaten First Amendment-protected activities of book publishers, investigative journalists, booksellers, librarians, and readers. Specifically, our concerns have focused on Section 215, which not only poses a significant threat to the work of investigative journalists who write about subjects that may be related to terrorism, but which also threatens the privacy and First Amendment rights of library patrons and bookstore customers," they wrote.

Sources/resources:

Source: ArtsWire WeeklyArts News, August 27, 2002; http://www.artswire.org/current.html#news1. http://www.infotoday.com/newsbreaks/nb020805-1.htm

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Is the GPO Endangered?

Ironically, in an age when information and knowledge are valued as highly as economic assets, the executive branch of the federal government is issuing directives that would impede access to government information and limit its distribution. On May 3, Mitchell E. Daniels Jr., director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), issued a memorandum to the heads of executive departments and agencies directing them to select printing services on the basis of “quality, cost, and time of delivery.” The directive proclaimed, “The time has come for the Executive Branch to liberate its agencies from a monopoly that unfairly penalizes both taxpayers and efficient would-be competitors.” The memo indicated that agencies may print in-house, use the Government Printing Office (GPO), or purchase printing from private contractors. Agencies are directed to submit an annual report to the OMB on the cost of printing and duplication operations. The memo did not specify how these costs were to be calculated.

The proposed policy change raises many questions for which there are no easy or ready answers. For example, who will be responsible and accountable for archiving, cataloging, and ensuring access to executive branch documents? How will people and libraries be notified about their publication? How will they be distributed and sold? Currently, the Superintendent of Documents is responsible for the sale of documents and their distribution to the depository libraries. Documents are distributed through the GPO.

Julia Wallace, a librarian at the University of Minnesota, expressed concern about “fugitive” documents in her JCP testimony. “There is no question that the OMB memorandum will result in more fugitive government publications. Despite the requirements for agency dissemination in Title 44, it has been estimated that 50 percent of the government publications that executive branch agencies print today are fugitive.” These publications are not available to GPO for cataloging and distribution. People are denied access because they have no easy way to find out about the existence of documents.

Over the years the JCP has granted waivers and exceptions to the provisions of Title 44, permitting some agencies to print their documents. Francis J. Buckley, Superintendent of Documents, said he does not believe that publications produced under the proposed policy change will reach distribution to the depository libraries. This is based on his experience with the poor performance in this area by agencies with JCP waivers. While fugitive documents are a serious issue, the implications of the proposed policy are more dangerous and threatening.

For the full article by Miriam A. Drake appearing in Info Today Newsbreak, August 5, 2002, see http://www.infotoday.com/newsbreaks/nb020805-1.htm.

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Despite Opposition, Printing Policy Change on the Way

Federal agencies will be able to buy printing services on their own rather than through the Government Printing Office beginning this fall, under a Bush administration plan that is moving ahead despite opposition on Capitol Hill.

Under a May 3 directive from Office of Management and Budget Director Mitch Daniels, agencies that are not subject to the acquisition regulation—the Federal Aviation Administration and the CIA, for example—can start buying printing services on their own beginning Sept. 1. Daniels said last month that he expects the regulatory change to be finalized this fall, clearing the way for other agencies to go their own way on printing.

The Bush administration’s action is setting up a clash with lawmakers, who contend that the requirement to go through GPO is set in law. The Senate-approved version of the 2003 Legislative Branch Appropriations bill orders the administration to abide by the law.

Daniels, however, contends that Congress does not have the authority to mandate the GPO as a printing source. In his May 3 directive, Daniels cited a 1996 Justice Department opinion that said the printing requirement was unconstitutional.

The printing office is also fighting the Bush administration’s efforts. Public Printer Michael DiMario said last month that agencies won’t be able to find better prices than those available through GPO. Eliminating the GPO requirement will raise the government’s printing costs by hundreds of millions of dollars, DiMario said. Daniels argued that eliminating the requirement would save the government up to $70 million per year.

The full article by Brian Friel appearing in GovExec.com, August 27, 2002, is available at http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/0802/082702b1.htm.

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Getting Information From State Web Sites at a Price

In Indiana, if residents want to check the status of a doctor's license on the state Web site, they must pay $50 a year. By contrast, the State of New York, on a site called nydoctorprofile.com, offers information about the education, professional activities and legal actions against doctors at no charge.

Residents of many states can find exhaustive information about legislation free on stateWeb sites. But residents of Kansas must pay 25 cents a search to check the Kansas Register or to see a bill packet with full text.

A study of 1,265 state and federal Web sites released today by Brown University found that while government Web sites are providing better information over all, state officials are imposing more fees for that information.

While the trend could lead to better access for those who can pay, Darrell West, who conducted the study, said that the practice of charging fees for basic information is a worrisome trend that could result in two tiers of access to government information.

Source: Article by Rebecca Fairley Raney appearing in New York Times, Sept. 16, 2002.

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DOE/OSTI Proposes Eliminating PubScience

In August, the DOE posted a notice on the PubSCIENCE homepage of its proposal to discontinue PubSCIENCE -- with a September 8, 2002 deadline for comments. PubSCIENCE has been targeted since 2000 by the information industry and a handful of publishers who have declared that it competes with two private sector indexes that currently are provided at no cost to the public. However, both publishers could at any time change the no-fee status of these two services -- Scirus (owned by Reed Elsevier) and Infotrieve -- to fee-based subscriptions.

BACKROUND:
For over 50 years, the Department of Energy's (DOE's) Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) has been collecting, preserving, and disseminating scientific and technical information for DOE. From the beginning, the fundamental purpose of OSTI was to ensure that research results were reported and made available to the agency, to researchers in the physical sciences community, and to the broader scientific community.

As described on the "About PubSCIENCE" section of the web site, PubSCIENCE is a natural evolution of OSTI tools dating from the late 1940's, the Nuclear Science Abstracts and the Energy Science and Technology Database. DOE/OSTI distributed the Nuclear Science Abstracts to our Nation's federal depository libraries at no cost "in order to ensure maximum public access and dissemination of the results of research and development projects of interest to the federal government program. PubSCIENCE continues that tradition. In essence, PubSCIENCE is a modernization of Nuclear Science Abstracts and the Energy Science and Technology Database." (http://pubsci.osti.gov/aboutfrm.html Accessed August 29, 2002)

OSTI's mission continues to this day to provide access to national and global STI for use by DOE, the scientific research community, academia, U.S. industry, and the public. PubSCIENCE is the culmination of the agency's lifetime tradition of providing scientific and technical information by bringing that information to the desktop. PubSCIENCE [SKM1]was created in 1999 to give physical scientists the capacity to search across the journal literature at no fee in response to the evolving opportunities presented by web-based technologies. Indeed, the Department of Energy in early 2001 recognized the importance of PubSCIENCE as an outstanding resource, stating that: "The DOE Web Council selected the PubSCIENCE Web site as the featured site on the DOE National Library page for the February 2001 edition of www.energy.gov, the Department's new homepage. This work was a valued example of DOE's commitment to build a rich Web site for the American public."(http://pubsci.osti.gov/aboutfrm.html, August 29, 2002)

Comments/Talking Points
ALA has joined other library associations in preparing joint library and public interest group comments. The following talking points explain the crisis further and may be useful in your comments to the agency and to your legislators:

Source: American Library Association Washington Office Newsletter, Vol. 11, no. 70, Sept. 4, 2002.

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Additional Articles in the News

"Some Experts Fear Political Influence on Crime Data Agencies"
This article by Fox Butterfield deals with John Ashcroft's (and the Bush Administration's) efforts to exert control over crime statistics and crime research. Full article available via New York Times, Sept. 22, 2002. Free registration required. Thanks to Bill Sleeman, University of Maryland School of Law, for reporting this development in GOVDOC-L, Sept. 23, 2002.

"Energy Agency Says Web Info Poses Threat"
Citing the threat of terrorism, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is proposing new rules to limit the public's access to information about power plants, pipelines and other components of the energy infrastructure. Only those with "a need to know" will have access to the information, and they might be required to sign an agreement that prohibits them from revealing what they have learned. The agency proposes appointing a special information coordinator who would determine whether an individual seeking information has a need to know it. For the full article by William Matthews appearing in Federal Computer Week, Sept. 23, 2002, see http://www.fcw.com/fcw/articles/2002/0923/pol-energy-09-23-02.asp.

"White House Rejects Order to Use Printing Office"
On September 27th, Congress ordered executive branch agencies to continue to use the Government Printing Office for most printing services. But the White House responded the next day by saying agencies could ignore the order. For the full article by Brian Friel, GovExec.Com Daily Briefing, September 27th available at http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/0902/092702b1.htm

"Information Squeeze"
Openness in government is under assault throughout the United States--at every level. Can the news media, reluctant combatants thus far, mount a successful counterattack? For the full article by Charles Layton appearing in American Journalism Review, Sept. 2002, see http://www.ajr.org/article.asp?id=2617.

"Storage by the Page, Not the Byte"
According to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), most federal agencies create documents in electronic formats, but when preserving them as "official records," print them out on paper to store them. For the full article, see William Matthews, Federal Computer Week, Jan. 7, 2002, http://www.fcw.com/fcw/articles/2002/0107/pol-store-01-07-02.asp.

"Documents? What Documents?"
Both the GPO and the public's right to know have come under attack. Jim Jacobs from the University of California, San Diego, provides the following observation in GOVDOC-L, Oct. 1, 2002, based on this article: "We have asked the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council (which oversees the government-wide Federal Acquisition Regulation [FAR]) to promulgate a rule requiring printing contractors to submit electronic copies of their documents to the Superintendent of Documents for rapid distribution to the Depository Library Program." OMB Director Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr, appearing before the Joint Committee on Printing Hearings in July expanding on the footnote about FDLP in the original OMB memo.... For the full article by Barbara Quint, Information Today, Volume 19, Issue 8, September 2002, see http://www.infotoday.com/it/sep02/Quint.htm

"Senator Blasts White House Over Printing Issue"
The White House does not have the authority to declare unconstitutional a law requiring federal agencies to go through the Government Printing Office to buy printing goods and services. Sen. Mark Dayton, D-Minn., chairman of the Joint Committee on Printing, said he is disappointed by statements from the White House and the Office of Management and Budget that claim the executive branch can ignore the century-old printing law. “It might serve [the administration] well to read the Constitution,” Dayton told Government Executive Tuesday. “The executive branch doesn’t have the right to declare a law unconstitutional. It’s a terrible example to set for the country.” For the full story, see the article by Brian Friel, GovExec.Com Today, Oct. 4, 2002 at http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/1002/100302b1.htm.

"Congress Orders White House to Print Budget Through GPO"
In a move that ratchets up a surprising separation-of-powers battle between the executive and legislative branches, Congress ordered the White House to go through the Government Printing Office to print the 2004 budget. Lawmakers included the order in the stopgap funding measure that will keep the government running through next Friday. The order builds upon a provision included in a previous funding bill, which instructed executive branch agencies to use the printing office rather than seek out printing services directly from the private sector.

Office of Management and Budget spokeswoman Amy Call said the White House would ignore the new order, just as she said the last one would be ignored. She pointed to a 1996 Justice Department opinion that held Congress could not force executive branch agencies to procure printing services through the printing office.

Full story by Brian Friel, GovExec.com Today, Oct. 14, 2002 at http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/1002/101102b1.htm

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"The Assault on the Public's Right to Know"
"...PubScience is just one juicy target for the indexing industry. If they can shut it down, don't you think their next profit opportunity will be shutting down the venerable MEDLINE and ERIC databases researchers have relied on for forty years, so they can force researchers to use expensive commercial indexes instead?" A quote from an article by Marylaine Block in ExLibris, #151, August 16, 2002 available at http://marylaine.com/exlibris/xlib151.html.

Department of Education to Delete Years of Research From Its Website
"According to an article in Education Week, the US Department of Education is in the process of overhauling its Website. One of its main goals is to remove reports, research, statistics, etc. published before 2001, especially material that doesn't support the Bush Administration's approach to education. However, The Memory Hole will be preserving much of this material." Source: http://www.thememoryhole.org/edu/ed-info.htm

"Researchers Barred From U.S. Papers
Some scientists are running into a major post-Sept. 11 stumbling block: Federal restrictions have eliminated access to information vital to their studies. The government has cut Internet links, stripped information from agency Web sites and even required federal librarians to destroy a CD-ROM on public water supplies. Researchers worry that the rush to protect national security will hurt their efforts and the public.

"If there was a question about whether something should be declassified or not before Sept. 11 probably the attitude was to declassify," Kimberly said. "Now there's a more conservative approach."

The result, say experts, has been an information clampdown.

For example, University of Michigan researchers lost access to an Environmental Protection Agency database with information vital to their three-year study of hazardous waste facilities. "We hadn't counted on spending time on having to cajole for publicly available information," said Robin Saha, one of the researchers. He said the EPA added new query tools, but the information comes up in a different format.

For the complete article by Rachel Kipp appearing in the HeraldTribune, Oct. 14, 2002, see http://www.heraldtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?Date=20021014&Category=APA&ArtNo=210140857&Ref=AR

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