Our mission

Free Government Information (FGI) is a place for initiating dialogue and building consensus among the various players (libraries, government agencies, non-profit organizations, researchers, journalists, etc.) who have a stake in the preservation of and perpetual free access to government information. FGI promotes free government information through collaboration, education, advocacy and research.

GAO adds 2020 census to its high risk list

The U.S. Constitution — Article I, Section 2, clause 3, as modified by Section 2 of the 14th Amendment — requires a population census every 10 years for apportioning seats in the House of Representatives. However, in the wake of US Census Bureau Director John Thompson’s abrupt resignation in May — which garnered a rash of editorials and news articles decrying his resignation at this critical time! — and the Trump administration and GOP-led Congress failing to fully fund the 2020 effort, the 2020 census could be “heading for a train wreck” as Terri Ann Lowenthal, the former co-director of the Census Project, put it so succinctly.

Accordingly, the Government Accountability Office has added the 2020 US census to its high risk list. Issues which raised the threat level for GAO include cancelled field tests for 2017, critical IT uncertainties, information security risks, and “unreliable” cost estimates which do not “conform to best practices.”

Strap in folks, we’re in for a bumpy couple of years for the census. If you have a Senator on the Senate Appropriations Committee or Representative on the House Appropriations Committee, please contact them early and often and ask — nay plead! — that they fully fund the US Census Bureau in order to complete the constitutionally mandated decennial census.

For more background on the US census, see this CRS Report “The Decennial Census: Issues for 2020.”

Every 2 years at the start of a new Congress, GAO calls attention to agencies and program areas that are high risk due to their vulnerabilities to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement, or are most in need of transformation. The 2017 update identified 3 new High Risk areas and removed 1 area. The update is available below.

via U.S. GAO – High Risk List.

Jobs & Unemployment at State Agency Databases Project

This week’s State Agency Databases Project subject highlight is Jobs & Unemployment, featuring 44 states that project volunteers know to have publicly searchable databases in this subject area. Three examples from this compilation are:

 

CALIFORNIA

Alternative Workweek Elections – This database provides a listing of all California employers that have filed alternate workweek election results with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, such as a 4/10 or 9/80 workweek, whether the alternative won or lost. The database is searchable by company name, address, city, county, state, zip code, and date of the election.

 

OREGON

Office for Business Inclusion and Diversity (COBID) Certified Firms – A database of firms certified in Oregon as disadvantaged, minority, women, and emerging. Allows searches by name, certification number, location, and keyword. Also allows searches by NAIC, NIGP, or ODOT commodity codes.

 

TEXAS

Texas Workforce commission Job Search – The Texas Workforce Commission provides future employees one of the largest job databases in Texas. The site requires users to register to find and apply for jobs with Texas state agencies or universities. A State Application for Employment can be completed on the site. Employers can post jobs, search resumes, and get labor market information as well.

 

For more, see http://godort.libguides.com/jobsdbs If you know of state agency produced databases in this area, either comment here or use the “Email me” link on the guide to report a database, which will be forwarded to the appropriate project volunteer.

Supreme Court transcripts

Do you need audio recordings of the Supreme Court hearings? How about transcripts of those audio recordings available for bulk download? Are you responsible for helping people find data as well as government information? Are you looking for alternative sources for government data — in bulk? Well, if you are not already subscribed to Jeremy Singer-Vine’s wonderful mailing list Data is Plural, you should be. Here is just one example of what you’ll get (taken from the 2017.06.14 edition):

Supreme Court transcripts. Oyez.org bills itself as , among other things, “a complete and authoritative source for all of the [Supreme] Court’s audio since the installation of a recording system in October 1955.” The site has an API and releases all its material — including timestamped transcripts of oral arguments — under a Creative Commons license . A least two GitHub repositories have aggregated the transcripts and make them easy to bulk-download. For each segment of audio, the transcripts list the start/end time, the speaker, and the text. Related: PuppyJusticeAutomated , a YouTube channel that (a) must be seen to be understood and (b) uses the Oyez API . Previously: CourtListener (DIP 2016.04.13) and The Supreme Court Database (DIP 2016.02.23). [h/t Walker Boyle + Reddit user 21cannons ]

Want more? Visit the archives, or just subscribe now!

History, People & Culture at State Agency Databases Project

This week’s State Agency Databases Project subject highlight is History, People & Culture, featuring 49 states that project volunteers know to have publicly searchable databases in this subject area. Three examples from this compilation are:

 

ALABAMA

Alabama 1867 Voter Registration Database – Search the 131 volumes of the 1867 Voter Registration Records, which was one of the first statewide government documents that record African-American males living in Alabama. Search by name, race, county, or comments.

 

KANSAS

Death Notices of Members of Fraternal Orders – Database includes over 50,000 individuals for whom a notice of death was published in the proceedings of a fraternal order. Fraternal orders included and dates of coverage are: Ancient Order of United Workmen, 1879-1908; Knights of Pythias, 1877-1918; Independent Order of Odd Fellows, 1873-1970; Rebekah Assembly of the IOOF, 1891-1953

 

WYOMING

Wyoming Newspapers – Wyoming State Library – Available through this website are newspapers printed in Wyoming beginning with the 1849 Chugg Water Journal, in an easily searchable format. Browse or search the more than 900,000 newspaper pages converted from microfilm to a digital format. All text is searchable, including news articles, news briefs, obituaries and other items of interest.

 

For more, see http://godort.libguides.com/historydbs. If you know of state agency produced databases in this area, either comment here or use the “Email me” link on the guide to report a database, which will be forwarded to the appropriate project volunteer.

Montana Library Association passes Resolution to fund US govt publications preservation

Bernadine Abbott Hoduski, the grande dame of government documents — she’s got a GODORT award named after her for gosh sakes! — sent me this announcement. The Montana library Association, at its annual membership meeting in March, 2017, passed a packet of resolutions including their Resolution on Funding the Preservation of Federal Government Publications (text below). The resolution calls on the US Congress to “fully fund preservation of Federal government publications housed in federal depository libraries.”

The resolution has been sent to Montana’s US Senator Jon Tester, who happens to sit on the Senate Appropriations Committee. Please consider taking this text and passing the resolution at other state library associations, especially if your state’s senator sits on the Appropriations Committee. I’ve sent the text of this resolution to CA Senator Diane Feinstein.

Thanks bernadine for all your hard work on this and through the many years!

Resolution on Funding the Preservation of Federal Government Publications

Whereas, Democracy depends upon the public’s access to information from and about the United States federal government; and

Whereas, to preserve the historic record of our country, the United States Congress established a distributed system of Federal depository libraries to safeguard government information from dangers ranging from bit-rot to fire; and

Whereas, the United States Federal depository libraries provide public access to federal government publications and information without charge; and

Whereas, Federal depository libraries spend millions of dollars collecting, housing, cataloging, and providing public access to federal government information, and

Whereas, Federal depository libraries lack enough money to preserve millions of federal government publications in paper, microform, and digital formats; and

Whereas, the U. S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) established FIPNet (Federal Information Preservation Network) as part of the “National Plan for Access to U. S. Government Information” – a strategy for a collaborative network of information professionals working in various partner roles to ensure access to the national collection of government information for future generations. FIPNet contributes to the preservation of both tangible and digital government information, and elevates the public awareness and prestige of local initiatives, specific collections of government information, and the institutions and agencies that have stewardship over them; and

Whereas, GPO is not authorized to provide funding directly to depository libraries that agree to preserve federal government publications; and

Whereas, the United States Congress can authorize GPO to provide funding to depository libraries; and Whereas, GPO needs additional funding and staff to provide on-site support for libraries in the building of an inventory and catalog of all their federal government publications in order to plan for preservation;

Therefore, be it resolved that:

The Montana Library Association urges the U. S. Congress to fully fund preservation of Federal government publications housed in federal depository libraries; and

The Montana Library Association urges the U. S. Congress to authorize the U. S. Government Publishing Office to provide funds directly to libraries for the preservation of the federal government publications (paper, microform, and digital) housed in their libraries; and

The Montana Library Association urges Congress to provide funding to the Superintendent of Documents (GPO) so agency librarians can travel to depository libraries to advise librarians in preservation activities, including inventorying, cataloging, and planning for preservation of government publications.

Adopted by the Montana Library Association Membership March 31, 2017

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