NEWS FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY
Issue 98, JULY 2003

Table of Contents

  1. Government Printing Office to Retain Monopoly Power
  2. Geographic Data Portal In the Works
  3. 9-11 Report Censored?
  4. Visualizing the Depository Library of the Future
  5. No Reliable Intelligence on Iraqi Weapons?
  6. McCarthy Era Executive Session Records Released
  7. Nixon Tape Still Remains a Mystery
  8. Typing Skills Now Mandatory at U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
  9. Congressman Sabo : Making Federally Funded Research Accessible to the Public
  10. President Bush Issues Executive Order on Declassification of Government Documents
  11. USGS Holds Homeland Treasure


(1) Government Printing Office to Retain Monopoly Power

The Government Printing Office will continue its century-old monopoly on federal agencies' printing jobs, under an agreement the Bush administration announced June 6th. The agreement ends outgoing Office of Management and Budget Director Mitch Daniels' year-long quest to let agencies avoid using the printing office as their middle man.

Daniels agreed to let the printing office keep its monopoly. He even agreed to curtail or eliminate current executive branch printing operations that do some of agencies' printing work in-house. In return, GPO chief Bruce James agreed to set up a Web-based ordering system that will let government buyers deal directly with private printers, which will negotiate discounted overarching agreements with the printing office. The system is modeled after the General Services Administration's supply schedules. The printing office will collect a 3 percent rebate from printers to fund the cost of the system.

"It gives agencies more freedom and flexibility in selecting printers," James said.

For the full story by Brian Friel, see GovExec.Com Today, June 9, 2003 at http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/0603/060603b1.htm.

Back to table of contents


(2) Geographic Data Portal In the Works

The implementation of a federal initiative to create an Internet portal for easy access to geographical data from government sources is facing major challenges, a panel of experts told a House Government Reform subcommittee on Tuesday. The Office of Management and Budget is developing the portal to share data among federal, state and local agencies in order to aid emergency-response workers and others.

But the General Accounting Office and other mapping experts told the Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and the Census Subcommittee that the portal must contend with more than 40 duplicative sites for collecting "geospatial" data.

Additionally, some federal agencies and state and local governments may be reluctant to abandon their own projects in favor of a federal system, the witnesses said.

Still, OMB touted progress on the portal, citing completion of a new framework to integrate duplicative programs.

Click here for related stories: http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/0603/061003td2.htm. Source: GovExec.com Daily, July 11, 2003.

Back to table of contents


(3) 9-11 Report Censored?

Why is the Bush administration blocking the release of an 800-page congressional report about 9-11? The bipartisan report deals with law enforcement and intelligence failures that preceded the attacks. Among the portions of the report the administration refuses to declassify, sources say, are chapters dealing with two politically sensitive issues: the details of daily intelligence briefings given to Bush in the summer of 2001 and evidence pointing to Saudi Government ties to Al Qaeda. The complete article by Michael Isikoff is available in Newsweek, June 2, 2003, p.8.

Back to table of contents


(4) Visualizing the Depository Library of the Future

Portions of the Spring Depository Library Council Meeting held in Reno, Nevada on April 6 9, 2003 are now available via video on the Depository Library Council Web Page at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/fdlp/council/index.html. It's rather long, but it does provide a glimpse of what Bruce James thinks about the Federal Depository Library Program's future.

Back to table of contents


(5) No Reliable Intelligence on Iraqi Weapons?

Yet another report is casting doubt about the government's intelligence on Iraq before the war. As U.S. News revealed earlier this month, the Defense Intelligence Agency in a September assessment found "no reliable information" on Iraq's production of chemical weapons. Top Bush administration officials later said that line was taken out of context. But it turns out that in November the agency repeated its conclusion in a classified report on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, U.S. News has learned. "No reliable information indicates whether Iraq is producing or stockpiling chemical weapons or where the country has or will establish its chemical agent production facility," the second report states. This means the DIA analysts remained cautious even after their bosses signed off on an October National Intelligence Estimate, a joint assessment by the U.S. intelligence community, which concluded that Iraq did in fact possess chemical and biological weapons. Both DIA reports noted suspicious arms transfers, but a spokesman says: "There was no single piece of irrefutable data that said Saddam definitely has it."

Source: USNews.com Washington Whispers, June 16, 2003 by Paul Bedard.

Back to table of contents


(6) McCarthy Era Executive Session Records Released

On 5 May 2003, in the same Senate hearing room that Senator Joseph R. McCarthy (R-WI) used to conduct his investigations into communism, espionage, and internal subversion, the Senate Committee on Government Affairs announced the release of all of the previously closed transcripts of executive session proceedings during McCarthy's embattled tenure as a subcommittee Chair (1953 - 1954). The transcripts of 161 closed hearings -- some 9,675 pages of testimony given by close to 500 witnesses -- is the largest quantity of documents related to the McCarthy or his investigations ever to be released.

During his chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, McCarthy shifted emphasis from searching out waste and corruption in the executive branch to conducting sensational inquiries into allegations of communist subversion and espionage. He led investigations of the Department of State, the Voice of America, the U.S. Information Libraries, the Government Printing Office, the Army Signal Corps, and American defense industries. This effort culminated in the nationally televised Army-McCarthy hearings, followed shortly by the Senate's vote to censure McCarthy for conduct contrary to senatorial traditions.

Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) shared the podium to announce the release. According to Collins, in January 2001, her committee authorized the Senate Historical Office to begin preparing the McCarthy documents for release on their 50th anniversary. The release contains testimony by such prominent witnesses as Aaron Copeland, Langston Hughes, Howard Fast, Dashiell Hammett, Herbert Apthecker, and Sherrod East, an archivist at the National Archives. Other witnesses included government employees, labor organizers, and army officers.

Collins described the five volume set as "chilling" to read. She spoke proudly of the efforts some fifty years ago of Maine Senator Margaret Chase Smith (whose seat Collins currently occupies), the first United States senator to speak out publically against the excesses of Senator McCarthy. The room fell silent when Senator Levin recalled his role some 49 years ago when he, along with a half dozen other students from Swarthmore, delivered a petition to members of Congress in support of McCarthy's censure. McCarthy had arranged for a million signature petition against censure to arrive at the Senate under armed guard, but the student petition upstaged the senator's event. Of the importance of the release Levin stated, "these documents are further evidence of how Senator McCarthy abused the public trust....History is a powerful teacher, and these documents offer many lessons on the importance of open government, due process, and respect for individual rights."

The project, under the direction of Associate Senate Historian Dr. Donald A. Ritchie, took over two years to complete. Ritchie stated that although most records of the Senate remain closed for only 20 years, in this instance, because the records involved personal privacy issues, the Senate ordered them sealed for just under fifty years. McCarthy's personal papers will remain closed until the passing of his adopted daughter.

According to Ritchie there are no particular blockbuster revelations in the transcripts, but the volumes give new and deeper insights into the operations of the committee. Ritchie stated that executive sessions were held preliminary to the public hearings and were not open to the press or the public. In most cases, the witnesses were not even permitted to receive copies of the transcripts. Ritchie stated that the transcripts show that "anybody who stood up to McCarthy in closed session, and did so articulately, tended not to get called up into the public session...McCarthy was only interested in the people he could browbeat publicly."

The five-volume set of hearings is published by the Government Printing Office. While the hearing transcripts were edited for publication, nothing was deleted from the transcripts. All of the original transcripts are open and available for research at the Center for Legislative Archives, National Archives and Records Administration.

The complete five-volume set is available on the Government Printing Office website at: http://www.access.gpo.gov/congress/senate/senate12cp107.html; a link to the McCarthy documents is also on the website of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations at: http://www.senate.gov/~gov_affairs/psi.htm. Printed copies of the hearings may be purchased from the Government Printing Office at: http://bookstore.gpo.gov.

Source: Bruce Craig, National Coalition for History (NCH) Washington Update, Vol. 9, #20, May 7, 2003.

Back to table of contents


(7) Nixon Tape Still Remains a Mystery

What was recorded during the 18 and -minute gap on one of President Richard Nixon's White House tapes will remain a mystery -- at least for the time being -- states National Archives officials. The gap is part of a recording made 20 June 1972 in the Nixon White House and is believed by some to have been erased by or on orders of the President. According to Archivist of the United States, John Carlin, audio analysts were unable to recapture unintelligible words from test tapes. "I am fully satisfied that we have explored all of the avenues to attempt to recover the sound on this tape" said Carlin. Carlin stated that the tape will be preserved in the hopes that "later generations will be able to recover the erased words."

Source: Bruce Craig, National Coalition for History (NCH) Washington Update, Vol. 9, #23, May 30, 2003.

Back to table of contents


(8) Typing Skills Now Mandatory at U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Patent and Trademark Office employees who cannot type have two years to learn before the agency stops hiring professional typists to assist them, the Federal Service Impasses Panel ruled recently.

As part of an effort to phase out obsolete administrative procedures, the PTO has announced that it will stop providing patent examiners with professional typists. The agency is also introducing new computer software. Patent examiners must use the new software, which is based on Microsoft Word, to communicate with patent applicants.

Source: Amelia Gruber, Typing Skills, GovExec.Com Today, June 27, 2003.

Back to table of contents


(9) Congressman Sabo : Making Federally Funded Research Accessible to the Public

Congressman Martin Olav Sabo (D-MN) introduced the Public Access to Science Act (H.R. 2613 or PASA) of 2003 on June 26. The act would amend copyright law to require federally funded research be made available to the public. "It is wrong when a breast cancer patient cannot access federally funded research data paid for by her hard-earned taxes. It is wrong when the family whose child has a rare disease must pay again for research data their tax dollars already paid for," Sabo said. The Minneapolis Congressman went on to say, "Common sense dictates we provide the most cutting-edge research to all who may benefit from it - especially when they've already paid for it with their tax dollars, and my legislation will do just that."

H.R. 2613 would require research substantially funded by the federal government to be made available in the public domain. Sabo indicated today's advances in science and medicine, combined with the Internet's capability to disseminate information far and wide, make the applicability of his legislation all the more timely. "The United States government funds basic research with the intention and the belief that the new ideas and discoveries that result will improve the lives and welfare of the people at home and around the world," explained Sabo. "Our government spends $45 billion a year to support scientific and medical research whose product is new knowledge for the public benefit. Via the Internet, it could be made available to everyone at home, work or a public library. We must remember that government funded research belongs to, and should be readily available to, every person in the United States." "It defies logic to collectively pay for our medical research, only to privatize its profitability and availability," Sabo concluded.

Source: American Library Association Washington Office Newsletter, Vol. 12, no. 59, June 30, 2003.

Back to table of contents


(10) President Bush Issues Executive Order on Declassification of Government Documents

On March 27, President Bush issued Executive Order (E.O.) 13291, "Further Amendment to Executive Order 12958, As Amended, Classified National Security Information." The Order postpones all declassification of government documents until December 31, 2006, or for an additional 3 years, and permits the re-classification of formerly declassified documents. The new Order revises E.O. 12958, a Clinton administration Order that required automatic declassification of most government documents after 25 years and asserted a presumption toward declassification of documents. By contrast, the new Order states "The unauthorized disclosure of foreign government information is presumed to cause damage to the national security." Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientist (FAS), said in a Washington Post interview that he was "pleased that some of the Clinton order's mechanisms have been ratified by a Republican president." However, Thomas Blanton, executive director of the National Security Archive, in a Washington Post interview, said the Order "sends one more signal from on high to the bureaucracy to slow down, stall, withhold, stonewall." For the revised text of the Order, see the Web site, http://www.fas.org/sgp/bush/drafteo.html.

Source: March-April 2003 E-News for ARL Directors: Part Two - Federal Relations, May 7, 2003.

Back to table of contents


(11) USGS Holds Homeland Treasure

The U.S. Geological Survey, with its massive collection of the most comprehensive maps of the United States, has become an unlikely partner in the war against terror.

Marty Eckes, senior policy adviser for USGS, told a gathering of federal officials that the agency's collection has become essential for homeland security in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. USGS has the only maps showing the entire infrastructure of the United States.

While most intelligence-gathering efforts have looked abroad, Eckes said the collection known as the National Map provides much of the information government officials and first responders would need to help fight terrorism.

Eckes said the collection included vast amounts of information about transportation, structures, water systems and boundaries. It also has detailed maps of 133 urban areas that show power lines and institutions such as hospitals.

"We already have it here. We don't have to re-create it," Eckes told the gathering at the second annual Government Symposium on Information Sharing and Homeland Security, sponsored by the Government Emerging Technology Alliance.

For the full article by Judi Hasson, see Federal Computer Week, July 1, 2003.

Back to table of contents

Pointers
  • Back to RED TAPE Home Page
  • Back to Jon Harrison's Home Page
  • Back to MSU Libraries Home Page
  • Assistance Requested
    • Thanks for visiting the RED TAPE Home Page. Each issue is continuously updated and expanded during a three month cycle, so check back soon for the latest changes.

    • If you have any comments, notice any glaring inaccuracies, or would like to forward any relevant information concerning this Home Page, please send e-mail to: Jon Harrison

    Standard Disclaimers
    • MSU is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Institution.

    Ownership Statement
    Jon Harrison : Page Editor
    Social Sciences Collections Coordinator
    Michigan State University Libraries
    100 Library
    E. Lansing, MI 48824-1048
    Voice mail: (517) 432-6123, ext. 123
    Fax: (517) 432-8050
    Last revised 07/11/03

    This page has been visited times since June 1, 1996.