NEWS FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY
Issue 102, MARCH 2004

Table of Contents

  1. The Price of Loyalty: the Bush Files
  2. GPO Moving?
  3. FedStats to Incorporate More State and Local Data
  4. 40th Anniversary of the First Report on Smoking and Health
  5. Keeping Secrets
  6. Inside the CIA Museum
  7. Supreme Court Brief Submitted Supporting Public's Right to Know
  8. Treasury Department Bans Research Articles
  9. Judge Severs Interior Department Web Connections Again
  10. Census Bureau Web Page Marks 10th Anniversary
  11. National Commission on Terrorism in the News
  12. ERIC Contract Awarded
  13. AALL GD-SIS Veronical Maclay Student Travel Grant
  14. Women's History Websites of Interest
  15. How to Effectively Locate Federal Government Information on the World Wide Web


(1) The Price of Loyalty: the Bush Files

Documents forming the basis of Paul O'Neill's headline-grabbing charges that the Bush administration planned as early as Jan. 2001 for the fall of Saddam Hussein will be posted on the Internet as an "experiment in transparency."

Here's the story: Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill made news recently when he charged in the release of his book The Price of Loyalty that President George W. Bush planned to invade Iraq in the first few weeks of his administration. The Bush administration initially charged O'Neill's evidence should not have been publicly disclosed. Days ago, current Treasury Secretary John Snow noted that the Treasury Department should never have released at least some of the documents, and vowed to review the department's procedures to ensure that such releases never happen again. Last week, the author of O'Neill's book, Ron Suskind, began posting the 19,000 documents cited in the book on the Internet.

But the real story is not whether O'Neill or the Treasury Department should have released the documents, is the fact that these documents, once poured over, may yield interesting insights into policy decision-making, and these insights may pressure this administration -- and future administrations -- to reveal more information in a more timely manner about their policy deliberations.

If nothing else, the posting of these documents on the Internet shows that government has the technical capability to make more documents available to the public than it does now. The Treasury Department electronically scanned every document that O'Neill saw into an image file and stored them. So duplicating these documents and posting them online is relatively easy.

So why are background administration documents such as these hidden from public view? Those who use the federal open-records law, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), often complain that "pre-decisional" agency records are exempt from disclosure under FOIA. In other words, agencies do not have to disclose memos and other documents that government employees write while working through policy alternatives. The logic is that government employees should be able to enjoy a free exchange of ideas while forming policies, and the threat of these early memos' disclosure to the public would constrain early policy deliberations. Proponents of this exemption argue the public interest in government creating good policy decisions after complete and candid deliberations outweigh the public interest in disclosure of these documents. But many who attempt to obtain information from government through FOIA charge the "deliberative process" exemption has been used excessively to withhold information unnecessarily.

If these documents yield new insight into the policy decisions this President has made, more Americans may find new benefits to disclosure and embrace such disclosure as necessary to understand their president's actions and hold their elected leaders to account.

Paul O'Neill's papers may be accessed online at http://thepriceofloyalty.ronsuskind.com/thebushfiles/.

Source: Paul O'Neill's Papers to be Posted Online, (OMB Watch) The Watcher, February 9, 2004 Vol.5, No.3; GOVDOC-L, Feb. 10, 2004.

Back to table of contents


(2) GPO Moving?

The U.S. Government Printing Office, having done business at the same location near Capitol Hill since shortly before the Civil War, wants to move.

Sources said the agency, the largest industrial employer in the District of Columbia, would announce its moving plans today on the federal business opportunities website.

The relocation project would have no direct impact on the federal budget. Instead, it would be self-financed through a massive private redevelopment project on the agency's present North Capitol Street site, which includes four buildings encompassing at least 1.5 million square feet.

Under the proposed scheme, this potentially valuable real estate, spread within the shadow of Union Station, would be converted into prime office and retail space that could potentially house thousands of new workers.

Source: Andrew Glass, GPO move will mean big Hill development: Thousands of jobs, 1.5M square feet of offices affected, The Hill, Feb. 10, 2004; GOVDOC-L, Feb. 10, 2004.

Back to table of contents


(3) FedStats to Incorporate More State and Local Data

The Housing and Urban Development Department and the Census Bureau have combined forces to make trolling for government statistical information about cities, counties, states and the nation easier.

The agencies have enhanced the Fedstats Web site -- available at http://www.fedstats.gov/ -- with a new powerful MapStats section. Users are one click away from state data and two clicks from county and city data, HUD officials said today.

MapStats eliminates the need to search multiple sites to get information on births and deaths, income, poverty, housing, crime, employment, retail sales, education levels, travel time to work, minority owned firms, weather and many other community indicators.

The site now links two applications to search for information across federal agencies. When used with HUD's State of the Cities Data System, MapStats takes users to detailed demographic and business information for cities. Data from the State of the Cities Data System (SOCDS) is available for four decades back to allow trend research.

Source: Mary Mosquera, Federal statistics site gains tools to ease access to local data, Government Computer News, Feb. 9, 2004; GOVDOC-L, Feb. 10, 2004.

Back to table of contents


(4) 40th Anniversary of the First Report on Smoking and Health

Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, often called "America's Family Doctor," joins the American Lung Association in unveiling a public service announcement campaign commemorating the 40th anniversary of the first Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health. Released on January 11, 1964, the report represented a seminal moment in public health, as it was America's first widely publicized official recognition of smoking as a cause of cancer and other deadly diseases.

The PSA, entitled "Remember 1964," began airing on television stations nationwide in December. In the PSA, Dr. Koop reminds smokers of the Report's impact and issues a powerful call to action, urging smokers to celebrate the anniversary event by quitting.

"Although there have been great strides made in smoking cessation, there's still more work to be done," said Dr. Koop. "Approximately 46 million American adults still smoke, and the introduction of so-called 'reduced risk' tobacco products may pose a serious threat to public health if they have the effect of delaying or changing a smoker's decision to quit, increasing the exposure to risk of contracting a smoking-related disease. Fortunately, the past 40 years have brought new help and new hope for those who want to quit smoking. There are now FDA-approved tools available to help, including nicotine replacement therapies like the patch, gum and lozenge, as well as counseling, support programs and quitlines, all of which can increase a smoker's chances of becoming smoke-free."

For more information about the Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health, see http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/sgr/ or for more information about the anniversary, see http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/overview/anniversary.htm.

Source: PNN Online, January 2004.

Back to table of contents


(5) Keeping Secrets

President Bush and his administration's efforts to shield the actions of, and the information obtained by, the executive branch are far more extensive than has been previously documented. A series of initiatives by administration officials to effectively place large amounts of information out of the reach of ordinary citizens is discussed in the following article available via the Proquest Research Library.

"Keeping Secrets: The Bush administration is doing the public's business out of the public eye. Here's how--and why", by Christopher H. Schmitt, Edward T. Pound, U.S. News & World Report, Dec 22, 2003, Vol. 135, Iss. 22, pg. 18

Back to table of contents


(6) Inside the CIA Museum

The part of the CIA that's in charge of science and technology is showing off some never before-seen-devices that have been used in the cloak-and-dagger game over the years. CBS News Correspondent Bill Plante went to CIA Headquarters to get a sneak peek at what some have called "the finest museum you'll never see."

It's a museum of top-secret spy stuff, a display of the once-classified gadgets used by CIA spies all over the world. It's for CIA employees only, but CBS News got a rare look behind the scenes from Dr. Donald Kerr, director for science and technology.

The web page provides 20 images from inside the spy museum that the public can't visit!

Source: CBS Early Show, January 13, 2004 and the Memory Hole.

Back to table of contents


(7) Supreme Court Brief Filed Supporting Public's Right to Know

The U. S. Supreme Court should "reject the government's claim that it may conduct the public's business in secret" according to a "friends of the court" (amici curiae) brief submitted today by four leading library associations, a national archival association, and five public interest organizations in support of the Sierra Club and Judicial Watch, Inc. in the case of Richard B. Cheney, Vice President of the United States, et. al., v. U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

The case concerns the request by the Sierra Club and Judicial Watch for disclosure of whom, outside of the government, participated in the vice president's National Energy Policy Development Group. Vice President Cheney has refused to disclose any information about the group.

In 2002, the federal district court granted the motions of the Sierra Club and Judicial Watch to proceed with discovery about the makeup of the task force. The government appealed the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which in of July 2003 refused to overturn the lower court's order. The government then petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to take the case, which it agreed to do in December 2003.

The amici joining in this brief share the conviction that broad access to government records protects values essential to representative democracy and promotes public participation in public policy. They hold that "public participation in government can be meaningful only if the people know what officials are doing, and how they are doing it. Equally, without that information the people can't hold public officials accountable for their actions."

The amici are the American Association of Law Libraries, the American Library Association, the Association of Research Libraries, the Center for American Progress, Common Cause, the National Security Archive, People for the American Way, the Society of American Archivists, and the Special Libraries Association.

Source: Association of Research Libraries, News Release, March 11, 2004, http://www.arl.org/arl/pr/cheney_case.html.

Back to table of contents


(8) Treasury Department Bans Research Articles
from Iran, Cuba, Sudan, and Libya

The U.S. Department of Treasury has ruled that a well-known scientific society (IEEE) can't publish articles in its journals from authors in trade-embargoed countries if their manuscripts require any copy or style editing. The embargo has other scientific associations and American publishers up in arms. The prohibition applies to authors in Iran, Cuba, Sudan, and Libya, but not to submissions from Iraq, North Korea, Zimbabwe, the Balkans, or Liberia, where embargoes are more limited.

For more information, see Publishers Steamed by US Ban, The Scientist, March 2, 2004 Daily News and the ruling.

Back to table of contents


(9) Judge Severs Interior Department Web Connections Again

Interior Department employees are once again experiencing a disruption in Internet service because a federal judge is not convinced the department has adequately secured electronic records of Native Americans' trust fund accounts.

On Monday (March 15th), U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth ordered the department to cut off Web access for all workers except those at the National Park Service, the Office of Policy, Management and Budget, and the U.S. Geological Survey. Under the order, Interior can leave computer systems "essential for protection against fires or other threats to life or property" connected.

Interior officials on Tuesday blasted Lambert's latest order as "a new frontier in [the U.S. District Court for D.C.'s] efforts to run the operations of executive branch agencies." The ruling applies to computer systems that do not house data related to the Indian trust fund, officials noted in a statement.

Source: Amelia Gruber, GovExec.com Daily Briefing, March 16, 2004.

Another source: U.S. Interior Dept. Loses Web, Scientist Daily News, March 26, 2004.

Back to table of contents


(10) Census Bureau Web Page Marks 10th Anniversary

Visitors to the U.S. Census Bureau's Internet site view more than 1.5 million pages of information a day, 13,000 percent more than 10 years ago when they accessed only about 12,000 pages a day.

In March 1994, the Census Bureau became one of the first government agencies to offer a WWW portal. Although the Census Bureau had long been a pioneer in using computer- technology, developing the first electrical tabulating machines for the 1890 census and the UNIVAC computer for the 1950 census -- activation of the Web site marked the first availability of "point-and-click" access to its vast storehouse of statistics.

"For much of the past two centuries, only the most data-savvy researchers and librarians could access -- let alone digest -- statistics collected by the Census Bureau, but all of that has changed during the past decade," said Commerce Secretary Don Evans.

The Census Bureau is on the cutting edge of using technology to make information available to all Americans and, indeed, to all the world.

U.S. Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, said, "Quality government statistics require quality input from citizens and businesses alike. Census Bureau technology gives consumers and decision-makers a payback with more timely and relevant information, which is readily accessible online.

" Changes during the past 10 years include the addition of the American FactFinder data retrieval system, which allows users to create customized tables and maps from a complex array of data sets, and the State and County QuickFacts, which summarizes population and business statistics for every state and county in the country. Other popular features include the capability to produce maps and the 1990 Census Lookup tool.

Census Bureau Director Louis Kincannon said that because of the Internet and the Web, "we have become more efficient, reduced paperwork, realized cost savings and become more responsive to our customers."

For example, Kincannon said, "Ten years ago the 1990 census results took up more than 450,000 pieces of paper which, when stretched out, would have spanned 78 miles. Posting Census 2000 results directly on the Internet has enabled us to eliminate more than 75 percent of our paper products."

The Web site enables users to gain direct access to information and Census Bureau products, resulting in streamlined customer service. Between January and November 1993, the Census Bureau's customer service office received nearly 17,000 orders and inquiries by mail or fax. During the same period in 2003, the number of paper orders dropped dramatically, to less than 500.

Since its inception, the Census Bureau's Web site has garnered several awards, including PC Magazine's "Top 100 Web Sites" and Entrepreneur magazine's recognition of it as an information resource for small businesses.

The Census Bureau also has created an Internet feature showing how the site's home page has changed over the years. Feedback from customers and focus groups has been used by Internet developers at the Census Bureau, who say making their site easier to navigate is a priority as new customers and data are continuously added.

Source: Census Bureau News Release, March 17, 2004.

Back to table of contents


(11) National Commission on Terrorism Attacks
Upon the United States in the News

The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (also known as the 9-11 Commission), an independent, bipartisan commission created by congressional legislation and the signature of President George W. Bush in late 2002, is chartered to prepare a full and complete account of the circumstances surrounding the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, including preparedness for and the immediate response to the attacks. The Commission is also mandated to provide recommendations designed to guard against future attacks.

The Commission is holding its eighth public hearing today and tomorrow, March 23-24, 2004, in Washington, DC. Staff Statement No. 5, Staff Statement No. 6, Staff Statement No. 7, and Staff Statement No. 8 from the eighth hearing are currently available online in PDF format.

The press is currently reported sections of the report such as: "Clinton and Bush administration officials engaged in fruitless diplomatic efforts instead of military action to try to get Osama bin Laden out of Afghanistan before the Sept. 11 attacks, a federal panel said Tuesday. Top officials countered that the terror operation would have occurred even if the United States had been able to kill the al-Qaida leader."

Related article: Chris Strohm, "Bush Lacked Plan to Deal With al Qaeda", GovExec.com Today, March 24, 2004.

Back to table of contents


(12) ERIC Contract Awarded

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded a five-year, $34.6 million contract to Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) of Rockville, Md., along with its subcontractors, to develop and operate a new database system for the Education Resources Information Center (ERIC). The ERIC database will use the latest search and retrieval methods to cull education literature and give high-quality access to educators, researchers, and the general public.

The ERIC database is the world's largest education database. Begun in 1966, it is composed of more than one million bibliographic records. The goal of the new ERIC is to provide more education materials quicker, and more directly, to audiences through the Internet.

With the new ERIC, individuals will be able to go to one Web site to search a comprehensive database of journal articles and document abstracts and descriptions and, for the first time, directly access full text. The database will include as much free full text as possible, and links will be provided to commercial sources so that individuals can purchase journal articles and other full text immediately.

"This is a major milestone in furthering the objectives of No Child Left Behind," said Secretary of Education Rod Paige. "For the first time, educators and policy makers will have an easy to use resource for gaining quick access to comprehensive and up-to-date information and research about education."

Libraries will also be able to indicate their in-house holdings so that individuals do not purchase information that is already available to them. Materials will be added to ERIC within one month of release, and authors will submit conference papers through an online system.

Development of the new ERIC database model will begin in this month under the following plan:

The contract was awarded to CSC, along with its subcontractors, Research Triangle Institute (RTI) of Research Triangle Park, N.C., NATECH of Coos Bay, Ore., DB Consulting of Silver Spring, Md., and CurrenTech, Inc. of Columbia, Md. The CSC team couples a research firm with a leading technology firm to address a major reengineering of the ERIC database, with an emphasis on quality control and continuous technological improvement. The RTI curators will select materials for the database, working with new standards and criteria to be developed with the steering committee, content experts, and public input.

During the development and transition to the new ERIC, the ERIC database will continue to be available at http://www.eric.ed.gov, and materials selected in 2003 will continue to be added. Until the new model is operational in 2004, no new materials will be accepted for the database. The department will post updated information about the transition on the ERIC Web site and will contact publishers, education organizations, and other database contributors when the new model is ready to begin adding journal articles and other materials this year.

U.S. Department of Education News Release, March 18, 2004; for more information contact : David Thomas, (202) 401-1576

Back to table of contents


(13) AALL GD-SIS Veronical Maclay Student Travel Grant

The Government Documents Special Interest Section of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL GD-SIS) is pleased to announce that it will award a grant in the amount of $500 to a student currently enrolled in an ALA accredited library and information studies master's program.

The Veronica Maclay student grant is to be used to attend the AALL Annual Meeting & Conference held July 10-14, 2004 in Boston, Massachusetts.

Preference will be given to LIS students who demonstrate interest in government information and a career in law librarianship.

DEADLINE FOR RECEIPT OF APPLICATIONS: APRIL 30, 2004.

The application and recommendation letter should both be submitted in electronic format only using the links below. These web forms will automatically submit electronic applications and recommendation letters to ALL Grant Committee members.

Application form (to be completed by student).

Recommendation form (to be completed by LIS faculty member or AALL member; copy and paste is okay)

Veronical Maclay Biography.

Back to table of contents


(14) Women's History Websites of Interest

Since March is Womens' History Month, here are a couple of webpages of potential interest.

The Library of Congress (LC) has launched "American Women: A Gateway to Library of Congress Resources for the Study of Women's History and Culture in the United States," part of the LC "American Memory" website. Tap into it at: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/awhhtml/.

For a related LC site, take a look at "Women's Words of Wisdom -- Activity, Learning Page." This site displays quotes and photos of 16 famous women -- Abigail Adams, Harriet Tubman, Susan B. Anthony, Ella Fitzgerald, and others. Tap into: http://memory.loc.gov/learn/features/womenswords/index.html.

The U.S. Department of Education also has a number of learning resources focusing on women's history. A portal site is located at: http://www.ed.gov/free/w-history.html

Source: NCH WASHINGTON UPDATE (Vol. 10, #11); 18 March 2004.

Back to table of contents


(15) How to Effectively Locate Federal Government Information on the World Wide Web

Although this online tutorial first appeared back in 1997 (cited in September 1997 Red Tape), the authors -- Sherry DeDecker and Patricia Cruse, University of California -- have continued to update it, most recently on January 6, 2004, and so I am sharing the site once again. Check it out at http://www.library.ucsb.edu/guides/intro.html.

Five different modules are available:

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 03/25/04

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