NEWS FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY
Issue 105, September 2004

Table of Contents

  1. New Database Focuses on Genetic Policy and Laws
  2. Law Student Creates Instant "Government Document Library"
  3. National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States
  4. More 9/11 Commission Analysis
  5. Federal Bureaucracy Expanding
  6. Science and Politics
  7. Federal Agencies Criticized for Overclassifying Information
  8. Abu Ghraib Inquiry Produces Surprising Results
  9. Requests for Government Information Hit All-Time High
  10. An Original Way to Go Postal
  11. University of Virginia Scripps Library and Multimedia Archives
  12. Committee on Government Information Developments
  13. Collection of Last Resort in the News
  14. Government Secrecy Developments
  15. Accessibility Battle Flares in Congress
  16. Online Federal Library on Health Research Sparks Outcry
  17. NIH Unveils Open Access Draft
  18. Will Satellite Images, Maps, Reports, and Data Disappear?
  19. OSHA: Black Hole of Government
  20. Restore Open Government
  21. National Museum of the American Indian Opens in Washington, D.C.
  22. Homeland Security Offers Advice to Businesses on Terror Attacks


(1) NHGRI Launches Free Web-based Resource For Finding
Federal, State Laws Related to Genetic Issues

The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), today (July 19, 2004) unveiled a new Web-based resource that will enable researchers, health professionals and the general public to more easily locate information on laws and policies related to a wide array of genetic issues.

The NHGRI Policy and Legislation Database is located on NHGRI's Web site at http://www.genome.gov/LegislativeDatabase. The free, searchable database currently focuses on the following subject areas: genetic testing and counseling; insurance and employment discrimination, newborn screening; privacy of genetic information and confidentiality; informed consent; and commercialization and patenting.

"This is a tremendous resource for anyone interested in learning more about the laws, regulations and policies pertaining to genetics and genomics. It will serve as a valuable tool for all Americans, from academic researchers seeking to patent genetic technologies to average citizens trying to determine what protections exist in their states against genetic discrimination," said NHGRI Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.

The resource features a convenient, interactive map of the United States that enables users to view state legislation and laws for any of the 50 states and the District of Columbia by simply clicking on that jurisdiction. Users also can search the database by keyword, content type, topic and/or source, and can also sort the information by date or citation.

The database, which will be updated on a regular basis, contains links to full-text copies of federal and state laws/statutes; federal legislative materials; and federal administrative and executive materials, including regulations, institutional policies and executive orders. Abstracts are also provided that summarize the government materials in lay language.

The new database is managed by NHGRI's Office of Policy, Communications, and Education (OPCE), which develops policy related to the societal implications of human genome research. "This database fills a long-standing need in the genetic policy arena. It is literally a one-stop shop for anyone with an interest in this rapidly developing field," said OPCE Director Alan E. Guttmacher, M.D. "We think it will be of interest to a broad array of users, including legislators and policymakers at the local, state and federal levels."

In addition to federal and state laws, the database includes materials from these current and former federal agencies and advisory panels: Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the Secretary's Advisory Committee on Genetics, Health and Society and the President's Council on Bioethics.

This fall, NHGRI plans to add more categories of content to the database, primarily in the areas of foreign statutes and laws, foreign policy, treaty and international agreements, and policy material from international organizations.

NHGRI is one of the 27 institutes and centers at NIH, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services. Additional information about NHGRI can be found at its Web site, http://www.genome.gov.
Source: NIH News, July 19, 2004.

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(2) Law Student Creates Instant Government Documents Library

Outragedmoderates.org isn't offering copyright music and videos for download. The Downloading for Democracy web page, launched two weeks ago by Thad Anderson, a law student at St. John's School of Law in Queens, has aggregated more than 600 government and court documents to make them available for download through the Kazaa, LimeWire, and Soulseek P2P networks in the interest of making government more transparent and accountable.

The documents include such items as recent torture memos related to the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, a Senate Intelligence Committee report on what the government knew before it invaded Iraq and a document showing how the Bush administration suppressed information about the full cost of its Medicare plan until after Congress passed the plan. There is also a copy of a no-bid contract obtained by a Halliburton subsidiary for work in Iraq and congressional testimony from former employees of the subsidiary showing how their company engaged in wasteful and costly conduct in Iraq (such as abandoning an $85,000 Mercedes truck after its tires went flat).

According to Anderson, although all of the documents are available elsewhere, they are buried deep in government and court sites or scattered among the sites of various government watchdog groups and media outlets. It took Anderson about four hours and 2,000 mouseclicks to download more than 13,000 documents related to Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force from the National Resources Defense Council's website and from Judicial Watch. But a visitor to Anderson's site can download a folder containing all of these documents in a few minutes with a couple of mouseclicks.

The documents, obtained from Freedom of Information Act lawsuits, suggest that the task force, convened in 2001, met secretly and may have colluded with energy companies and lobbyists to craft the nation's energy policy. The documents include a map of Iraqi oil fields, pipelines and refineries, and a document called "Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts" dated March 2001, before the attacks on the World Trade Center. They also include a now-infamous e-mail, known as the "If You Were King" memo, written by an Energy Department employee to a lobbyist asking what, if the lobbyist were king, he would like to see included in the nation's energy policy.

For the full story, see Kim Zetter, Downloading for Democracy, Wired Online, July 19, 2004; also check out Thad Anderson's Government Document Library.

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(3) National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States

The U.S. government was utterly unprepared on Sept. 11, 2001, to protect the American people from al Qaeda terrorists, who outwitted and outmaneuvered a bureaucracy that had never seriously addressed them as a threat and had never fathomed the possibility of such a calamitous assault on U.S. soil, according to a searing account of failures and missteps released yesterday in the Final Report of the 9/11 Commission.

The 567-page final report of the commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks chronicles in exhaustive detail the sporadic and failed attempts of the CIA, the FBI and other intelligence agencies to track some of the Sept. 11 plotters and their associates. Although it stops short of blaming President Bush or former president Bill Clinton for the attacks, the document concludes that both administrations were lackluster in their efforts to combat Islamic terrorism and derides congressional oversight of the issue as "dysfunctional."

"The 9/11 Commission Report," available in paperback in bookstores nationwide, proposes a series of controversial reforms that would amount to perhaps the most dramatic restructuring of the U.S. government in half a century. The 10-member bipartisan panel recommends forming a new Cabinet-level office of national intelligence and creating a terrorism center that would not only analyze intelligence but also run its own counterterrorism operations at home and abroad. The commission wants Congress to completely change the way it governs the intelligence community as well.

In proposals that would have a major impact on virtually every American, the report advocates encoding U.S. passports with personal information -- as is now required for some foreigners entering the United States -- and recommends standardized driver's licenses nationwide. Both ideas were met with immediate criticism from civil liberties advocates.

The 9-11 Commission's Final Report is also available on GPO Access at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/911/index.html. The Report has been made available in its entirety, as a single PDF file, and is also available as a collection of smaller PDFs arranged in a browse table based on the document's table of contents.

Copies of the Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (S/N: 041-015-00236-8) are also available for purchase from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov/911commission.html for $13.25 ($8.50, plus $4.75 for Priority Mail shipping and handling). A 32 page executive summary of the Final Report is now being printed and will be distributed to depository libraries as soon as it is available. The summary will be available for sale (S/N: 041-015-00237-6) for $3.00. The Washington Post has already made it available via the web.

In addition, the Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (9-11 Commission) will be distributed to Federal depository libraries in paper format under: Y 3.2:T 27/2/FINAL

For the full story, see Dan Eggen, 9/11 Panel Chronicles U.S. Failures, Washington Post, July 23, 2004 and Michele Worthington, Librarian, Information Dissemination (Superintendent of Documents), U.S. Government Printing Office; GOVDOC-L, July 22, 2004.

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(4) More 9/11 Commission Analysis

The federal commission investigating the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks issued its final report Thursday, saying senior government employees bear some responsibility for the attacks and recommending a massive reorganization of the federal government.

The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States does not blame individuals for the attacks or conclude that the attacks could have been prevented, but says that federal agencies were not prepared, especially within the intelligence community, for the kind of attacks that occurred.

"This was a failure of policy, management, capability and, above all, a failure of imagination," Commission Chairman Thomas Kean said following the report's release. "None of the measures adopted by the United States government before 9/11 disturbed or even delayed the progress of the al Qaeda plot."

Notably, the report calls for the creation of a Cabinet-level national intelligence director that would oversee all of the government's 15 intelligence agencies, the majority of which are now run by the Pentagon.

The director would report to the president and manage a new federal structure that includes three directorates with responsibility for foreign, defense and homeland intelligence, and five national intelligence centers that would focus on weapons of mass destruction proliferation, international crime and narcotics, the Middle East, China and East Asia, and Russia and Eurasia.

The commission also recommends the establishment of a new national counterterrorism center to coordinate strategic and operational planning against Islamist terrorists, whether foreign or domestic. This new center would eventually replace the Terrorist Threat Integration Center, which was established under the CIA last year, as well as other terrorism fusion centers within the government. While the center would direct operational planning, execution would be carried out by existing agencies.

The commission also recommends a shakeup in Congress. For intelligence oversight, the panel recommends the creation of either a powerful new joint committee or a single committee in the House and Senate. The commission further recommends setting up permanent oversight committees for the Homeland Security Department in both chambers.

For the full story, see Chris Strohm, 9/11 Commission Scolds Government Over Attacks, Calls for Major Reforms, GovExec.com Today, July 23, 2004.

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(5) Federal Bureaucracy Expanding

The federal government is top-heavy with more layers of high-ranking bureaucrats than ever before, impeding the flow of information within agencies and clouding the accountability of the officials who run them, according to a Brookings Institution study.

The study, conducted by government scholar Paul C. Light, found that the number of federal executive titles swelled to 64 this year. That's up from 51 in 1998, 33 in 1992 and 17 in 1960.

The report cited several reasons for the overall trend, including the use of promotions rather than pay raises to reward senior employees, the creation of new positions by Congress and attempts by presidents to tighten their hold on the bureaucracy with a greater number of political appointees. The creation of the Department of Homeland Security is partly responsible for the growth, but every department except Treasury has added new executive titles since 1998.

Title creep may be good for business card printers, but it is bad for agencies and taxpayers, Light said. Information about problems -- mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners by the military, say, or concerns about possible damage to the space shuttle -- has to pass through more hands before it gets to the top.

"It helps explain why information flows are sometimes so sluggish," Light said. "And it also explains why we can't hold anybody accountable for what goes right or wrong. There are just so many places that decisions get made, or not made, that you can't really figure out who is responsible."

For the full story, see Christopher Lee, Agencies Getting Heavier on Top; 47 Executive Titles Created Since 1960, Washington Post, July 23, 2004.

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(6) Science and Politics

Members of a National Academy of Sciences (NAS) panel yesterday (July 21) challenged senior Bush administration officials over the propriety of asking the political affiliations and policy positions of scientists being considered for federal government advisory committees.

"Is it inappropriate to ask their party affiliation?" John E. Porter, NAS committee chairman, questioned government witnesses yesterday. "There is no specific prohibition against asking it," replied Robert Flaak, senior policy adviser in the General Service Administration, which oversees laws regarding federal advisory committees. "I see no reason why that would be important. [But] there are cases, in a policy-related committee advising the president, where perhaps it could be of interest."

Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Science Subcommittee on Environment, Technology, and Standards, told the NAS panel that political viewpoint questions are indeed appropriate because scientific advisory committees represent "the nexus between politics and science."

"Scientists should not consider themselves to be a privileged class that is somehow above politics," said Ehlers, who is also a research physicist. "Scientists must be in touch, even in tune, with the political realities around them. Only by understanding the political process can scientists fully integrate science into decision-making."

But Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), ranking member of the House Government Reform Committee who has issued his own allegations of Bush administration interference with government science, disagreed. "When it comes to scientific advisory committees, I don't think that the politics of the president or the administration should play any role in the selection. It ought to be solely on the basis of the competence of the scientists."

Source: Ted Agres, "NAS probes politics, science", The Scientist Daily News, July 21, 2004.

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(7) Federal Agencies Criticized for Overclassifying Information

The federal commission investigating the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks determined last week what open government advocates have long argued: Federal agencies are overclassifying information. According to the commission, poor information-sharing among federal agencies was a primary problem that contributed to the attacks. The panel's final report, issued last week, recommends that the overall budget of the intelligence community should be declassified, and information sharing should be stressed over information hoarding. Indeed, Chairman Thomas Kean told reporters after the report was released that half of all the classified documents he reviewed did not need to be classified.

"The culture of agencies feeling they own the information they gathered at taxpayer expense must be replaced by a culture in which the agencies instead feel they have a duty to the information—to repay the taxpayers' investment by making the information available," the report concluded. "Current security requirements nurture overclassification and excessive compartmentalization of information among agencies."

For the full story, see Chris Strohm, Federal agencies criticized for overclassifying information, GovExec.com Today, July 27, 2004.

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(8) Abu Ghraib Inquiry Produces Surprising Results

What is the best way to bury a scandal? Bring out the bad news when attention is focused elsewhere.

The Army, abetted by the Senate Armed Services Committee, executed the tactic with military precision late last week, trotting out a hard-to-swallow, 300-page account of the Abu Ghraib prisoner-abuse scandal under cover of the 9/11 Commission's sweeping report on terrorism.

It was a striking juxtaposition: one report exhaustive and direct, the other simply an attempt at damage control. One charging that the negative image the U.S. has projected in the Muslim world has undermined the war on terrorism, the other reinforcing that negative image by failing to deal responsibly with an issue that has justifiably enraged Muslims and cast U.S. ideals as hypocrisy.

Intrigued? Take a look at the full report at Army Inspector General Inspection Report on Detainee Operations

Source: "Army Abuse Report Seeks to Skirt Blame, evade spotlight", USA Today Op/Ed Column, July 27, 2004.

Here's more commentary from the Financial Times of London.

The US army has found 94 cases of confirmed or possible abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan, including the infamous brutal treatment of Iraqi detainees by US soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad. But the army inspector general who examined US interrogation and detention policies after the Abu Ghraib scandal yesterday said he found no evidence of systemic policy failures. "While we did find shortcomings and flaws. . . we also found that in our analysis of Lieutenant General Paul Mikolashek, the army inspector-general, yesterday told the Senate Armed Services committee.

Lt Gen Mikolashek said the abuses resulted from soldiers not adhering to army standards and from inadequate oversight by some leaders. His findings largely mirror those of Major General Antonio Taguba, who completed the first investigation into the Abu Ghraib abuses by concluding that a "failure of leadership" had allowed a few rogue soldiers to run amok. Panel Democrats questioned the conclusions of the report, citing a previously released report from the International Committee of the Red Cross which suggested that "methods of ill-treatment" appeared to be "part of the standard operating procedures by military intelligence personnel to obtain confessions and extract information".

"It is difficult to believe that there were not systemic problems with our detention and interrogation operations," said Carl Levin of Michigan, the top Democrat on the Armed Services committee. Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat, said the report's focus on low-ranking soldiers had failed to look at the role of senior officers. Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, head of US forces in Iraq until last month, has repeatedly denied approving harsh interrogation methods that appeared on a "rules of engagement" for interrogations document posted on the walls of Abu Ghraib.

The report found problems with army doctrine, which it said "does not clearly specify the interdependent, and yet independent, roles, missions and responsibilities of military police and military intelligence". Most of the seven soldiers charged over the Abu Ghraib abuses say they were following orders from military intelligence officials. While Democrats were broadly critical of the report, the three Republicans who attended the hearing welcomed its conclusions and cautioned the army against overreacting to the scrutiny they have undergone since the abuses became public.

Source: Demetri Sevastopulo, "Military finds 94 abuse cases in Iraq and Afghanistan", FT.com (Financial Times of London), July 26, 2004.

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(9) Requests for Government Information Hit All-Time High

The total number of Freedom of Information Act requests made to federal departments and agencies broke records in fiscal 2003 and cost the government almost $325 million, according to a new report from the Justice Department.

More than 3.2 million FOIA requests were received by federal departments and agencies in 2003, surpassing the 3-million mark for the first time, an annual report by the Justice Department's Office of Information and Privacy reveals. The number of requests jumped nearly 36 percent from the previous year, which marked the greatest single-year increase ever recorded.

"Generally, it's a healthy sign when people want access to government information. I'd be worried if FOIA activity was dropping," said Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists. "On the other hand, for many kinds of information, it should not be necessary for members of the public to invoke the formal process of the FOIA. The fact that it is necessary to file a request suggests that agency practices need to be updated and refined."

The full story by Chris Strohm appears in GovExec.Com Today, August 6, 2004 at http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/0804/080504c1.htm.

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(10) An Original Way to Go Postal

Every year, the U.S. Postal Service receives 40,000 submissions for new stamp images and releases about 35 of them. But now, thanks to PhotoStamps, a trial service from Stamps.com, the number of new stamps hitting envelopes nationwide could become nearly infinite.

PhotoStamps allows anyone to design their own image and emblazon a stamp with it. Thus, be prepared to see a wave of stamps with babies, cats, weddings and other personalized images and logos arriving in a mailbox near you.

Last summer, President Bush's Commission on the U.S. Postal Service recommended that the Postal Service pursue some form of personalized postage, said McBride. Shortly afterward, Stamps.com put in a proposal and quickly got authorization to move ahead.

Now, Stamps.com has three months to try to convince the government that the service can work.

See Embracing the Future: Making the Tough Choices to Preserve Universal Mail Service, Report of the President's Commission on the United States Postal Service. July 31, 2003. 208pp.

For the full story, see Daniel Terdiman, Wired News, August 11, 2004.

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(11) University of Virginia Scripps Library and Multimedia Archives

The University of Virginia Miller Center on Public Affairs recently announced some wonderful resources of possible use to government documents librarians and those interested in public policy. If interested take a look at the Scripps Library and Multimedia Archives.

Presidential Recordings. The digital library section provides links to hundreds of hours of secret White House recordings from Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson (with Truman, Eisenhower and Nixon recordings on the way); a growing collection of some of the most important presidential speeches of the past 70 years (in full audio); audio recordings and transcripts of the Jimmy Carter Oral History project conducted at the Miller Center; and recordings of public forums from numerous officials ranging from John Ehrlichman to William Fulbright. There are currently over 100 gigabytes of material available on the website with more in the pipeline. An additional 2 terabytes of material stored on internal servers will be transferred to the website soon.

Other resources available include a growing online reference section with extensive bibliographies on individual presidents and specific subjects closely associated with the presidency (e.g. the Vietnam Conflict).

Starting in the fall the Scripps Library Director promises to begin an email newsletter (roughly once a month) letting folks know what has been recently added to the online collection. If you would like to receive these updates, please let him know at greco@virginia.edu.

Two additional websites affiliated with the Miller Center may also be of interest.

American President.org is the Internet's most comprehensive, non-partisan resource on the history and workings of the American presidency. The website includes extensive biographies of every president and first lady; richly detailed event timelines; biographies of cabinet officials, presidential staffers, and advisers; multimedia resource galleries for each of the 43 presidencies; essays on key areas of presidential responsibility; and articles about White House administrative units. An editorial board of renowned scholars oversees all site content.

American Political Development website contains syllabi from 92 leading scholars of American Political History and an Electronic Classroom which serves as a gateway to websites rich in primary resources on 20th Century U.S. Politics. For more information contact Chi Lam at ckl2q@virginia.edu.

Source: Michael D. Greco, Library Director, Scripps Library and Multimedia Archive, Miller Center of Public Affairs, University of Virginia; telephone: (434) 924-4016; e-mail: greco@virginia.edu.

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(12) Committee on Government Information Developments

As you may know, the CGI Working Group is chartered under the E-Government Act, Section 207, which requires the U.S. Federal Interagency Committee on Government Information (ICGI) to make recommendations to OMB and NARA by December 2004 concerning certain aspects of government information management.

On August 18, CGI Working Group received from OMB a note saying: "the ICGI Executive Committee has reviewed your products and clearly your committee has done a lot of thinking and work. Let's open these up to public comment and review." Accordingly, we have asked that the two recent CGI WG products be posted at the ICGI Web site for comments: http://www.cio.gov/documents/ICGI.html#comment.

The first product is the draft "Combined Requirements" document, written primarily by Gil Baldwin, Jin Erwin, TC Evans, Richard Huffine, and Gretchen Schlag ( http://www.cio.gov/documents/ICGI/CGI-Requirement-040805.doc). It will be out for public comments until September 27. According to the descriptive blurb, "this draft defines requirements for enabling the identification, categorization and consistent retrieval of U.S. Federal Government information. It addresses: What government information is categorizable? What are searchable identifiers and how can they be applied to government information? and, Why should Agencies and Departments apply categorization? Please send your comments to gschlag@gpo.gov".

The second document is the draft Recommendation for Search Interoperability, which follows from the draft Requirements document reviewed publicly over the February - April period ( http://www.cio.gov/documents/ICGI/recommendation.html). On this document, comments are also invited until September 27. "The draft recommendation concerns how the U.S. Federal Government should adopt a search service standard to enhance interoperability among networked systems that aid in the discovery of and access to government information. Please send your comments to echristi@usgs.gov.

Source: Judy Russell, GOVDOC-L, August 25, 2004.

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(13) Collection of Last Resort in the News

"Government Printing Office officials have held preliminary discussions with librarians about creating a backup library to supplement federal depository library collections. GPO officials describe the new concept as a 'collection of last resort.' But officials at libraries that are part of GPO's Federal Depository Library Program have mixed views about the proposed collection. A period of public comment on the proposal began in the spring, and GPO officials have extended it to Sept. 7. GPO officials said they are only exploring the idea of a backup library and are looking for feedback. But they said new policies may be needed to guarantee free, permanent public access to the government's nearly 2.2 million titles. A collection of last resort would preserve those titles, both in tangible and electronic forms, in the event of an accident or a catastrophe."

For the full story, see Aliya Sternstein, "Collection of Last Resort", FCW.com, Aug. 30, 2004.

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(14) Government Secrecy Developments

In the last month several reports and hearing records have been released relating to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and government secrecy in general. First, according to a new summary report issued by the Department of Justice Office on Information and Privacy, the annual number of FOIA requests to federal government agencies exceeded three million for the first time last year. The total number of Freedom of Information Act/Privacy Act access requests received by all federal departments and agencies during FY 2003 was 3,266,394 -- some 863,456 more than the number of requests received during FY 2002, an increase of nearly 36%. It marks the first year in which the three-million-request level has been reached and also stands as the greatest one-year increase ever in FOIA requests received. Source: Summary of Annual FOIA Reports for Fiscal Year 2003.

On 26 August a "report card" on government secrecy was issued by OpenTheGovernment.org, a coalition of organizations (including the National Coalition for History) working to defend public access to government information, finds that governmental secrecy has measurably increased in recent years. The report states that "Government data confirm what many have suspected -- secrecy has increased dramatically in recent years but especially under the policies of the current administration. For every $1 the federal government spent last year releasing old secrets, it spent an extraordinary $120 maintaining the secrets already on the books states the report Source: "Secrecy Report Card Quantitative Indicators of Secrecy in the Federal Government" by OpentheGovernment.org, August 26, 2004.

During a 24 August hearing by the House Government Reform Committee Subcommittee on National Security, a Pentagon intelligence official stated that probably half of all government secrets may be unnecessarily or improperly classified. Pressed by Rep. Christopher Shays (R-CT) to estimate what percentages of all classified information are and are not correctly classified, Carol A. Haave, the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Counterintelligence and Security, said "How about if I say 50-50?...I do believe that we overclassify information," she said, but "I do believe that it is extensive [but] not for the purpose of wanting to hide anything. But I will tell you that with respect to military operations, people have a tendency to err on the side of caution." Source: Federation of American Scientists.

Courtesy of the National Coalition for History Washington Update, Sept. 3, 2004.

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(15) Accessibility Battle Flares in Congress

A lobbying battle over the accessibility of federally funded medical research to the public and other researchers gathered steam over the summer recess and threatened to break out in full force when Congress returns to town. To the Alliance for Taxpayer Access and its founder, the Open Access Working Group, "it's about how science can be exchanged freely," says Debra Lappin, one of the lobbyists working the issue. To the Association of American Publishers and other publishing organizations, the issue is "one of primarily fairness," says Allan R. Adler, AAP's vice president for legal and governmental affairs. So far, the open access folks seem to be winning, even though they promote themselves as David vs. a publishing Goliath. The National Institutes of Health is developing policy guidance that would require that final peer-reviewed manuscripts of NIH published research be placed in PubMed Central, the digital library maintained by the National Library of Medicine, within six months after publication in a scientific journal. Language promoting this direction is included in a report accompanying a House Appropriations Committee bill. Source: Judy Sarasohn, "Accessibility Battle Flares", Washington Post, Sept. 2, 2004, A21; Gary Price's ResourceShelf, Sept. 2, 2004.

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(16) Online Federal Library on Health Research Sparks Outcry

A battle over a proposal to make taxpayer-funded medical research reports available to the public is brewing on Capitol Hill, pitting some publishers and members of the scientific and medical communities against each other.

"The issue here is research that has been created with taxpayer money," said Rick Johnson, director of the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition. The coalition is part of the Open Access Working Group that has promoted the notion of open access to research.

At issue is language in the House Appropriations Committee report on the bill to fund the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education departments in fiscal 2005. The report calls for authors funded by the National Institutes of Health to deposit their research into a central, digital repository that would be freely available to the public.

For the full story, see Danielle Belopotosky, National Journal's Technology Daily, reported in GovExec.com Today, Sept. 7, 2004.

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(17) NIH Unveils Open Access Draft

Papers based on NIH-funded research would be freely available 6 months after their publication, according to a draft National Institutes of Health (NIH) policy released Friday (September 3) in an apparent compromise with journal publishers.

Under the proposed policy, journal peer-review committees would vet papers that report results from NIH-sponsored research. Once the journal has edited and published the articles, editors would upload them to a searchable Web site and NIH would make them publicly available within 6 months.

For the full article, see Paula Park, "NIH Unveils Open Access Draft", The Scientist, Sept. 8, 2004.

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(18) Will Satellite Images, Maps, Reports, and Data Disappear?

According to the American Library Association (ALA), the Senate has approved a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005 (H.R. 4200) that would create a new exemption under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). This exemption would restrict public access to unclassified satellite images and related data, such as maps, reports and analysis. Even if government officials felt that the public should have access to the information under FOIA, the provision prohibits the disclosure. According to critics, this completely bars the public from accessing certain commercial images and would threaten significant amounts of unclassified information that journalists, public interest groups, scientists, and the public routinely use. This provision has been incorporated into the House's version of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005 as an amendment which is now being discussed in House-Senate Conference. The ALA is urging concerned individuals to contact members of Congress and ask that they defer action on this amendment until its long-term impact has been adequately assessed. To take action, tap into the ALA Legislative Action Center at: http://capwiz.com/ala/home/. Source: Bruce Craig, National Coalition for History (NCH) Washington Update, Vol. 10, #37; September 16, 2004.

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(19) OSHA: Black Hole of Government

Calling OSHA the "black hole of government," a new OMB Watch report, The Bush Regulatory Record: A Pattern of Failure, accuses the workplace safety agency of withdrawing crucial workplace health and safety priorities or allowing them to languish on the regulatory agenda.

After withdrawing most of its identified priorities in December 2001 with one repeated excuse—“OSHA is withdrawing this entry from the agenda at this time due to resource constraints and other priorities”—OSHA has failed to identify the “other priorities” that warrant abandoning recognized workplace health and safety problems. The report examines four agencies that are particularly important to the public interest: the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and finds, not surprisingly, that This administration is failing to give the public the protections we deserve. It continues to abandon work on documented public health, safety, and environmental problems. Instead of identifying other priorities for serving the public, this administration is doing nothing. It cannot meet even short-term benchmarks for action, and it is allowing proposals for addressing long-identified needs to languish on its regulatory agenda. Finally, what little this administration has accomplished is not strong enough to meet the public’s needs but, instead, is weakened at the behest of industry interests. The report cites 24 items on OSHA's regulatory agenda that it has withdrawn, including one to protect workers from exposure to tuberculosis In the first half of 2004 it failed to advance 75 percent of items scheduled for action. It also eliminated data collection on musculoskeletal disorders.

Of course, anyone who reads Confined Space regularly knows that, but for the other 290 million people in the U.S., there's lots be learned here. And like many reports issued over the past several years concerning the Bush administration's failure to protect the public health, safety, and environment, this report didn't get much initial press, but will provide great documentation when the press gets interested again.

Source: Jordan Barab, Confined Space: News and Commentary on Workplace Health & Safety, Labor and Politics, Sept. 20, 2004.

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(20) Restore Open Government

On 20 September 2004, Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA) Ranking Minority member of the House Governmental Reform Committee, introduced legislation (H.R. 5073), the Restore Open Government Act of 2004. Waxman's bill seeks to restore the presumption that agencies release requested documents absent an identified harm under FOIA. The bill would also narrow the secrets that businesses could keep when submitting reports on problems and vulnerabilities in our transportation, energy and communications infrastructure ("critical infrastructure information") to the Department of Homeland Security. It also reverses the Bush executive order (E.O. 13233) on presidential records and seeks to ensure openness when the president obtains advice through committees such as Vice-President Cheney's energy policy task force.

Rep. Waxman believes that the Bush Administration "has repeatedly rewritten laws and changed practices to reduce public and congressional scrutiny of its activities....The cumulative effect is an unprecedented assault on the laws that make our government open and accountable."

Along with the legislation, a major new congressional report, "Secrecy in the Bush Administration," was issued by the House Government Reform Committee minority. This report provides an exhaustive critique of executive branch secrecy, from various well-known issues such as the controversy surrounding the vice-president's Energy Task Force to numerous less-known measures to block congressional access to agency records. The full text of the 14 September 12004 investigative report on "Secrecy in the Bush Administration" is posted at: http://democrats.reform.house.gov/features/secrecy_report/index.asp.

source: Bruce Craig, National Coalition for History (NCH) Washington Update, Vol. 10, no. 38, September 24, 2004.

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(21) National Museum of the American Indian Opens in Washington, D.C.

On September 21, 2004 the National Museum of the American Indian opened its doors to thousands of eager visitors in Washington, D.C. Among them were some 20,000 Native Americans who converged on the capital to celebrate the opening of this $219 million museum -- the Smithsonian Institution's eighteenth which is prominently located on the National Mall at Fourth Street and Independence Avenue, S.W.

The National Museum of the American Indian is the new home of one of the largest and most diverse collections of Indian art and artifacts in the world. It displays some 8,000 objects (many thousands more are in storage) that represent a 10,000-year time span from the pre-Columbian era through the beginnings of the 21st century.

This unique museum has three main exhibit halls: "Our Lives," "Our Universes," and "Our Peoples." The "Our Lives" exhibit, located on the third floor, explores the cultural, social, linguistic and political aspects of native communities. This exhibit also examines the forces that shaped modern native life. Located on the fourth floor, the "Our Universes" exhibit focuses on native cosmology and the spiritual relationship between humankind and the natural world. Also, located on the fourth floor, the "Our Peoples" exhibit focuses on historic events told from a native point of view.

Along with these exhibits and other artifacts on display, the museum also hosts two theaters. The Main Theater, located on the first floor, was designed for stage plays, storytelling, dance and music presentations, film and video viewing, lectures and seminars. The Lelawi Theater, on the fourth floor, will show a free 13-minute multimedia presentation on contemporary native life.

One of the most amazing aspects of this new museum is its design and landscaping. The exterior of the five-story building is made from golden-toned Kasota stone, a dolomitic limestone from Minnesota. The designer of the museum decided to use this material because it gives the building a feeling of natural rock formation sculpted over time.

With all the hoopla over the museum opening, however, a critical assessment of the museum exhibits and displays has yet to garner the attention they deserve. One Washington Post article characterized the new facility as "Where Myth and Museums Meet." Another -- by W. Richard West Jr. (the director of the new museum) -- speaks to the "poetic possibilities of history" that is found in the museum. West writes, "The National Museum of American History stands as an illuminating metaphor for a broader and fundamental change in the cultural consciousness of the contemporary Americas." Perhaps so, but for the time being, for the thousands of visitors who are passing through the museums doors they are honoring the presence of millions of contemporary indigenous people from hundreds of Native communities whose ancestors and presence today are essential components of the North American experience.

For those who can't be in Washington, check out the National Museum of the American Indian web page which is featuring the Grand Opening Celebration, September 21-26, 2004.

Source: Bruce Craig, National Coalition for History (NCH) Washington Update, Vol. 10, no. 38, September 24, 2004.

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(22) Homeland Security Offers Advice to Businesses on Terror Attacks

The United States has issued detailed instructions to small and medium sized businesses on how to prepare for and respond to attacks involving weapons of mass destruction.

The Homeland Security Department launched its Ready Business campaign, instructing companies on how to recognize and react to biological, chemical, nuclear and radiological attacks, as well as natural disasters and non-WMD terrorist attacks. The campaign builds on the existing, more general Ready America program.

Source: Joe Fiorill, GovExec. com Daily Briefing, Sept. 24, 2004.

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