[UPDATE 4/2/13: We've had some questions about the meaning of "ALL." Please read the comment thread for clarification. We don't mean "records" (which fall under FOIA) and we don't mean classified information. We mean public domain documents, publications, reports, data, statistics and the like. JRJ]
A convergence of several things -- the White House's new policy on Open Access to federally funded scientific information, the NAPA Report on the GPO, the CASSANDRA Letter to the Public Printer, and Sunshine Week among them -- has led us to create a petition on the White House's We the People petition site. If you believe in free permanent public access to authentic government information, we hope you'll sign the petition and forward on to all your friends and social networks to help us reach our goal of 100,000 signatures by April 11, 2013! Thanks in advance!!
WE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO:
Require free online permanent public access to ALL federal government information and publications.
1. Assure that GPO has the funds to continue to maintain and develop the Federal Digital System (FDsys).
2. Raise ALL Congressional, Executive & Judicial branch information, publications & data to the level of federally funded scientific information & publish ALL government information as "Open Access."
3. Mandate the free permanent public access to other Federal information currently maintained in fee-based databases - including the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER), the National Technical Reports Library (NTRL), & USA Trade Online.
4. Establish an interagency, govt-wide strategy to manage the entire lifecycle of digital government information w/ FDLP Libraries - publication, access, usability, bulk download, long-term preservation, standards & metadata.
The National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) completed an operational review of the Government Printing Office (GPO) mandated under the 2012 Consolidated Appropriations Act (Public Law 112-74). The NAPA report, “Rebooting the Government Printing Office: Keeping America Informed in the Digital Age,” acknowledged the obligation Congress has to establish an interagency government-wide strategy to manage the lifecycle of digital government information. The report also acknowledged the vital role GPO plays in providing free permanent public access to authentic government information in tangible formats through its Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) and to authentic government information in electronic formats via GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDSys).
However, Recommendation 4 states: “GPO and Congress should explore alternative funding models for the Federal Digital System in order to ensure a stable and sufficient funding source.” Among the models recommended are “…reimbursement for services; fees for end users; dedicated appropriations; and/or an automatic charge to agencies, depending on size, to encourage agencies to take advantage of GPO’s existing infrastructure and cover the cost of the services being provided by GPO.”
Just as the Obama Administration supports the public’s right to “free access over the Internet to scientific journal articles arising from taxpayer-funded research,” the Administration must support the creation of “stable and sufficient funding” to ensure free permanent public access to authentic government information arising from the work of taxpayer-funded Executive, Congressional, and Judicial Branch agencies.
- NAPA report, “Rebooting the Government Printing Office: Keeping America Informed in the Digital Age.”
- CASSANDRA Letter to US Public Printer in response to the NAPA Report.
- Expanding Public Access to the Results of Federally Funded Research. John P. Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).
- White House response to "We The People" petition "Increasing Public Access to the Results of Scientific Research"
- Government Accountability Office (GAO), Information Management: National Technical Information Service's Dissemination of Technical Reports Needs Congressional Attention. GAO-13-99, November 19, 2012. Context on the GAO report from FGI.
- GPO's Federal Digital System (FDsys): http://fdsys.gov
- PACER: http://www.pacer.gov
- National Technical Reports Library (NTRL): http://ntrl.ntis.gov
- USAtrade: https://www.usatradeonline.gov
- Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP). http://fdlp.gov
The past two weeks have been active ones at the State Agency Databases Project (http://wikis.ala.org/godort/index.php/State_Agency_Databases). For a full listing of activity during the past two weeks, see http://tinyurl.com/statedbs14d. Here are some highlights:
ALASKA (Daniel Cornwall)
Alaska Geologic Data Index - From the website: “AGDI includes information about industry reports and maps, field notes, drill logs, and other unpublished geology-related data. The archived data are held and controlled by government agencies, institutions, and private companies; the index points to the physical location of the data, provides a basic description, and contains information on accessibility.” Data can be selected by clicking on a map or conducting a search. The "more options" search allows one to search by keyword, author, title, project, year range and location. The search may be limited by data source, data set type, themes or commodity.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA (Susan Paterson)
Legislation Information Management System - The Council’s Legislative Information Management System (LIMS) is available for the public to view the status of a Bill or Resolution, Legislation by Council Member, Legislation by Committee, Text of a Bill or Resolution, A Council Member’s Voting Record, Contract Summary, Legislation by Co-Sponsor, A List of Legislation, Text of an Act, Legislative Meeting Agendas. You can search for legislation by keyword.
MARYLAND (Siu Min Yu)
Attorney Listing - Search for attorneys admitted to practice in the State of Maryland by name.
MISSOURI (Annie Moots)
All Contributions & Expenditures Search - Search for campaign contributions, expenditures, and committee to committee contributions multiple ways back to 2002.
WEBINAR USING PROJECT PAGE POSTED
This past week project volunteers were happy to see a presentation on Alaska agency databases and other information resources that relied heavily on our Alaska project page. The webinar is titled Databases By Alaskans and the archived version is viewable at http://library.alaska.gov/is/video/databasesbyalaskans2013.html.
Not Your Grandfather's Web Any More, a project briefing from the Coalition for Networked Information (CNI) spring 2013 member meeting by David S.H. Rosenthal of LOCKSS and Kris Carpenter Negulescu of the Internet Archive, is now available on CNI's video channels:
What are the practical and theoretical archiving problems posed by the newer parts of the Web, like social media, scientific workflows and Web services? How can the challenges of these latest developments be met, if at all? This presentation reports on the results of a workshop held at the Library of Congress under the auspices of the International Internet Preservation Consortium, where practitioners of Web archiving reviewed these questions. More information about this talk, including presentation slides, is available on the CNI site.
Happening now: Webcast on Public Access to Federally-Supported Research and Development Data and PublicationsSubmitted by jrjacobs on Tue, 2013-05-14 10:10.
The webcast for public comments on Public Access to Federally Supported R&D is happening today and tomorrow (14 – 15 May 2013), starting at 9:00 a.m EST. Here's the agenda and already-submitted written statements. In a few days, the video archives from the webcast will also be available (same URL), and eventually the full transcript of the meeting will also be found on the same page. Check it out. It's heartening to hear so many scholars, academics, policy wonks etc coming out in support of open access to scientific information and data.
This message is just a reminder that the Public Comment meeting on Public Access to Federally Supported R&D: Publications will occur tomorrow and Wednesday (14 – 15 May 2013), starting at 9:00 a.m. The agenda is attached.
The link to the webcast is on the front page of the agenda, but here it is again: http://sites.nationalacademies.org/DBASSE/DBASSE_083052
If you are interested, the written statements that were received as part of the registration process can also be downloaded from a link on that page. In a few days, the video archives from the webcast will also be available (same URL), and eventually the full transcript of the meeting will also be found on the same page.
We look forward to seeing all of you who will attend in person, and hope that those who watch by webcast find it a useful meeting.
Meredith A Lane, PhD
Director, Board on Environmental Change and Society
Project Director, Committee on Population
Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education
National Research Council
Keck Center, 500 Fifth St NW, Washington, DC 20001
Over the last several years, the US Census (including the American Community Survey and the Statistical Abstract of the US) have been under attack -- see "Fear, uncertainty, or doubt? Why the Census and ACS are critical to a well-functioning democracy" and "OMB Watch on Census Cuts" for more context. Budgets and funding, only part of the problem mind you, have been the cause of closing down the Census Bureau's Statistical Compendia unit and ostensibly of the Census Bureau's recent plan to drop the question on "number of times married" from the American Community Survey (see the single sentence at the end of an otherwise harmless Federal Register notice of request for comments).
Social conservatives and others on the right/libertarian political spectrum have long worried about -- if not outright feared -- the collection of demographic and other statistics by the US government. So it should come as no surprise that there's a new bill working its way through the US House of Representatives. H.R. 1638: Census Reform Act of 2013: The bill would eliminate the Census of Agriculture, the Economic Census, Census of Government, any mid-decade Census surveys, and any survey (including the American Community Survey) using survey sampling that does not tie directly to the decennial census of population. The Bill was introduced in the House by Jeff Duncan of South Carolina.
Great news: now there's a digital archive to access the historically important "Freedom Summer", a seminal moment in the US civil rights movement. The Wisconsin Historical Society has just released the 1964 Freedom Summer Project. Not only are there 25,000 manuscripts and key documents, but there are finding aids to help users access the information and instructional materials for teachers.
We've just released an online collection of 25,000 manuscripts related to the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer project. It's free and open to anyone for non-profit educational purposes at
Besides thousands of archival documents from COFO, CORE and SNCC and papers from dozens of individual activists, the site includes a downloadable Powerpoint about Freedom Summer and a PDF Sourcebook of key documents for teachers.
I'd be grateful if you'd forward this note to colleagues and educators who might be interested. As the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer approaches, we want teachers, students, historians, librarians, museum curators, the media, and anyone else to use these primary sources in their 50th anniversary programming.
We'll be adding a few thousand more pages this year, so please "like" us on Facebook and follow along:
Wisconsin Historical Society
Two new databases were released this week. Both are worth checking out!
- Nonprofit Explorer. ProPublica.
In April 2013, the IRS released structured data culled from the tax returns of almost 616,000 tax-exempt organizations. We've made this into a searchable database where you can look up organizations and see details like their executive compensation, revenue and expenses, as well as download their tax filings going back as far as 2001.
- Medicare Provider Charge Data. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
The data provided here include hospital-specific charges for the more than 3,000 U.S. hospitals that receive Medicare Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) payments for the top 100 most frequently billed discharges, paid under Medicare based on a rate per discharge using the Medicare Severity Diagnosis Related Group (MS-DRG) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2011. These DRGs represent almost 7 million discharges or 60 percent of total Medicare IPPS discharges.
More links at InfoDocket.
Steven Aftergood reports that some reports have been restored to the NASA Technical Reports Server:
- NASA Technical Report Database Partly Back Online by Steven Aftergood, Secrecy News (May 9, 2013).
...many of the NTRS records have been restored, including open literature publications, magazine articles, and other documents that were already in the public domain in any case. But hundreds of thousands of others still await a formal export control review to certify them for public release.
The White House has issued a new Executive Order on open data:
- Making Open and Machine Readable the New Default for Government Information. EXECUTIVE ORDER, May 09, 2013.
To promote continued job growth, Government efficiency, and the social good that can be gained from opening Government data to the public, the default state of new and modernized Government information resources shall be open and machine readable. Government information shall be managed as an asset throughout its life cycle to promote interoperability and openness, and, wherever possible and legally permissible, to ensure that data are released to the public in ways that make the data easy to find, accessible, and usable. In making this the new default state, executive departments and agencies (agencies) shall ensure that they safeguard individual privacy, confidentiality, and national security. [emphasis added]
- Open Data Policy-Managing Information as an Asset. Memorandum For The Heads Of Executive Departments And Agencies M-13-13, Office of Management and Budget (May 9, 2013). [pdf. 12 pages]
- Landmark Steps to Liberate Open Data. by Todd Park and Steve VanRoekel White House Blog (May 09, 2013)
John Wonderlich at the Sunlight Foundation has an excellent analysis and commentary:
- Open Data Executive Order Shows Path Forward, by John Wonderlich, Sunlight Foundation Blog (May 9, 2013).
[T]he new policies take on one of the most important, trickiest questions that these policies face -- how can we reset the default to openness when there is so much data? How can we take on managing and releasing all the government's data, or as much as possible, without negotiating over every dataset the government has?
How can the public (or policymakers) request what they don't know exists? How can CIOs manage what they haven't surveyed?
...Today's Executive Order demonstrates a new approach to open data, moving beyond rhetoric and aspiration, requiring agencies to publicly report on what data can be made public, building a new backbone for federal open data policy, and setting an example for other governments to follow. [emphasis added]
- New Open Data Memorandum almost defines open data, misses mark with open licenses. by Joshua Tauberer (May 9th, 2013).
- President Obama’s New E.O.: Open Data, Not Government Transparency by Jim Harper, Cato Institute (May 9, 2013).
President Obama Announces Intent To Nominate Davita Vance-Cooks As Public Printer
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 9, 2013 No. 13-21
PRESIDENT OBAMA ANNOUNCES INTENT TO NOMINATE DAVITA VANCE-COOKS AS PUBLIC PRINTER
WASHINGTON - The White House has released the following announcement:
Today, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individual to a key Administration post:
Davita Vance-Cooks, Nominee for Public Printer, Government Printing Office
Davita Vance-Cooks is currently Deputy Public Printer of the Government Printing Office (GPO), a position she has held since December 2011. Ms. Vance-Cooks has served in a number of other roles at GPO since 2004, including Chief of Staff, Managing Director of the Publications and Information Sales Business Unit, and Deputy Managing Director of Customer Services. Prior to joining GPO, she was the General Manager at HTH Worldwide Insurance Services from 2001 to 2004. Previously, she served as the Vice President of Consumer Services at Digital Insurance from 2000 to 2001. From 1993 to 2000, Ms. Vance-Cooks served in several roles with NYLCare Health Plans of the Mid-Atlantic, which was purchased by Aetna during her tenure. Ms. Vance-Cooks received her B.S. from Tufts University and an M.B.A. from Columbia University.
Link to White House announcement: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/05/08/president-obama-an...
Link to Davita Vance-Cooks' bio: http://gpo.gov/pdfs/about/Vance-Cooksbio.pdf