Sorry for the odd look gentle readers. We’re experiencing some technical issues with our site’s theme, so I’ve switched over to another theme while we work them out. The site should be fully functional, but if you experience any problems, please let us know at admin AT freegovinfo DOT info.
Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting says that the Trump administration has not filled key staff positions in public affairs offices, newsrooms, and media offices of many government departments and agencies. This is consistent with the administration’s well reported "glacial pace" in filling 2,000 mid-level political-appointee positions in the Executive branch.
- Trump in No Hurry to Staff ‘Enemy of the People’ Offices, by Dave Lindorff Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (Mar 21 , 2017).
[R]eporters in both Washington bureaus and in newsrooms around the country depend on [these offices] to get routine information about what these departments and agencies are doing, or, in the case of more investigative assignments, to ask basic questions and set up interviews with key personnel.
Some departments, like Defense, Homeland Security and Justice, have well-staffed press offices listed on their websites, making access easier, but others, like Agriculture and Interior, do not. (Interior got a special thumbs down.)
The article speculates that this inactivity may be part of "a Trump war against the … media. The unprecedented barring of major news organizations at White House press briefings, the barring of press from what are nevertheless called media events, the barring of the press from the secretary of State’s plane on international trips, and the president’s reference to the media as an ‘enemy of the people’ certainly suggest that it also may be a case of being in no hurry to open up government to inspection."
Examples from the article:
- No press officer at EPA and no response to questions from "a receptionist" who took questions.
- The phone at the public information at the Interior Dept. is answered by a recording, not a person. You can leave a message.
- The Interior Dept. website lists no press office; press releases provide no contact person.
- The Commerce Department’s website still lists the offices of director of public affairs and press secretary as "vacant."
Politico reports that Congress is set to cancel the privacy rules that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) established in December. The rule is intended to to implement the Congressional requirement that "telecommunications carriers protect the confidentiality of customer proprietary information."
TICK, TOCK ON CRA – Senate Commerce Chairman John Thune said Tuesday the votes to rescind the FCC broadband privacy rules under the Congressional Review Act are being "whipped as we speak," and he expects the resolution will have the support it needs "in the end." Thune also said a vote on the CRA could come as early as this week…. "We’re very committed to continuing to go down that path of using the Congressional Review Act resolutions of disapproval to undo a lot of what we think is the regulatory damage done by the previous administration," Thune told reporters. [POLITICO’s Morning Tech, 03/22/2017].
S.J.Res.34 would cancel the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rule relating to "Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunications Services" (81 Fed. Reg. 87274 (December 2, 2016)).
From the rule summary:
The rules require carriers to provide privacy notices that clearly and accurately inform customers; obtain opt-in or opt-out customer approval to use and share sensitive or non-sensitive customer proprietary information, respectively; take reasonable measures to secure customer proprietary information; provide notification to customers, the Commission, and law enforcement in the event of data breaches that could result in harm; not condition provision of service on the surrender of privacy rights; and provide heightened notice and obtain affirmative consent when offering financial incentives in exchange for the right to use a customer’s confidential information.
Please tune in next Wednesday, March 29, 2017 from 9am – 10am Pacific / 12:00 – 1:00pm Eastern for the next Help! I’m an Accidental Government Information Librarian Webinar “Saving government data: A conversation with the future.” You’ll need to RSVP for the session in order to get the link to the WebEx live session. “See” you there!
Help! I’m an Accidental Government Information Librarian presents … Saving government data: A conversation with the future, on Wednesday, March 29, 2017 from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. (Eastern).
In recent months, the DataRefuge project has collaborated with hundreds of volunteers around the United States to collect, describe, and store federal data that support climate and environmental research and advocacy. This project, and others like it, works in conjunction with the End of Term Web Archive to capture and make available federal web content during administrative transitions.
Our discussion will explore the fragility of digital information, and expand on ideas about what data is. We’ll talk about current projects and efforts, and explore the future of this work. Finally, we’ll address the concept of sustainability, and propose a paradigm of empowered experimentation that aligns with our values and roles within libraries.
We will meet together for Session #69, online on Wednesday, March 29, 2017 from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. (Eastern). Please RSVP for the session using this link: http://bit.ly/GRS-Session69
We will use WebEx for the live session. Information on testing and accessing the session will be made available when you register.
The session will be recorded and available after the live session, linked from the NCLA GRS web page (http://www.nclaonline.org/government-resources).
Laurie Allen is the Assistant Director for Digital Scholarship in the Penn Libraries, where she leads a group working to expand the capacity of researchers at Penn to create and share scholarship in new forms. The group engages in digital project development, data management and curation, mapping, experimentations with emerging research methods, and open access publishing. In late 2016, Allen was part of the group that started Data Refuge, and has been involved in bringing together a group of collaborators to form a network of libraries, open data activists and open government efforts.
James A. Jacobs is Data Services Librarian Emeritus, University of California San Diego. He has more than 25 years experience working with digital information, digital services, and digital library collections. He is a technical consultant and advisor to the Center for Research Libraries in the auditing and certification of digital repositories using the Trusted Repository Audit Checklist (TRAC) and related CRL criteria. He served as Data Services Librarian at the University of California San Diego and co-taught the ICPSR summer workshop, “Providing Social Science Data Services: Strategies for Design and Operation”. He is a co-founder of Free Government Information.
James R. Jacobs is the US Government Information Librarian at Stanford University Libraries where he works on both collection development as well as digital projects like LOCKSS-USDOCS. He is a member of ALA’s Government Documents Roundtable (GODORT) and served a 3-year term on Depository Library Council to the Public Printer, including serving as DLC Chair. He is a co-founder of Free Government Information (freegovinfo.info) and Radical Reference (radicalreference.info) and is on the board of Question Copyright, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that promotes a better public understanding of the effects of copyright, and encourages the development of alternatives to information monopolies.
Shari Laster is the Government Information Librarian and Data Services Librarian at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She currently serves as Assistant Chair/Chair-Elect for the Government Documents Round Table of the American Library Association, and is a past chair of the Depository Library Council, the advisory body for the Federal Depository Library Program.
In an unusual move, the Trump Administration is separating OMB publications into two groups on the whitehouse.gov website: those from “Prior administrations” and those that are “Recent.” Thus, the White House is pointing to the obamawhitehouse.archives.gov copies of all OMB Bulletins, Circulars, and Memoranda issued prior to January 20 instead of maintaining these as part of the current whitehouse.gov website.
One Circular of particular interest to government information specialists is Circular A-130, “Managing Federal Information as a Strategic Resource.” The new whitehouse.gov website points to a copy of the A-130 Circular in the obamawhitehouse.archives.gov archive and labels it a regulation of a “Prior administration.”
According to OMB Circular No. A-1 (which was written in 1948 and revised in 1952 and is now only available from the Obama White House archive):
Circulars and Bulletins which are employed to communicate various instructions and information to the executive departments and establishments. The Circular series is used when the nature of the subject matter is of continuing effect. The Bulletin series is used when the subject matter requires single or one-time action by the departments or establishments or is of a transitory nature…. The provisions of any Circular or Bulletin, except as otherwise specifically provided in any given Circular or Bulletin, shall be observed by every such department or establishment insofar as the subject matter pertains to the affairs of such department or establishment.
It is not clear if this separation of policy documents into current and archived copies is intended to convey a change in the effective status and implementation OMB policies under the Trump administration.