For all you Presidential historians out there, the Smithsonian has a funny/sad/strange article about the history of the vice-presidency -- a job that John Adams, the first vice-president, described as "the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived" and John Nance Garner, the 32nd VP from 1933-1941, said "wasn’t worth a bucket of warm spit." Read on. It may make you want to visit Huntington, Indiana and the Quayle Vice Presidential Learning Center (yes THAT Quayle :-)).
Read more:The Vice Presidents That History Forgot: The U.S. vice presidency has been filled by a rogues gallery of mediocrities, criminals and even corpses. Tony Horwitz. Smithsonian magazine, July-August 2012
The Constitution also failed to specify the powers and status of vice presidents who assumed the top office. In fact, the second job was such an afterthought that no provision was made for replacing VPs who died or departed before finishing their terms. As a result, the office has been vacant for almost 38 years in the nation’s history.
Until recently, no one much cared. When William R.D. King died in 1853, just 25 days after his swearing-in (last words: “Take the pillow from under my head”), President Pierce gave a speech addressing other matters before concluding “with a brief allusion” to the vice president’s death. Other number-twos were alive but absentee, preferring their own homes or pursuits to an inconsequential role in Washington, where most VPs lived in boardinghouses (they had no official residence until the 1970s). Thomas Jefferson regarded his vice presidency as a “tranquil and unoffending station,” and spent much of it at Monticello. George Dallas (who called his wife “Mrs. Vice”) maintained a lucrative law practice, writing of his official post: “Where is he to go? What has he to do?—no where, nothing.” Daniel Tompkins, a drunken embezzler described as a “degraded sot,” paid so little heed to his duties that Congress docked his salary.
[HT to BoingBoing!]
Add the Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics to the growing list of defunded federal publications. The Sourcebook, published since 1973, is a project of the University at Albany, School of Criminal Justice's Hindelang Criminal Justice Research Center and funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. The Sourcebook offers a wide variety of statistics regarding the characteristics of criminal justice systems, public attitudes toward crime, nature and distribution of offenses, Characteristics and distribution of persons arrested, Judicial processing of defendants, and Persons under correctional supervision.
Due to budget cuts, the Department of Justice is terminating funding for the Sourcebook as of 8/1/12. Please take a few moments to answer the survey they're conducting as part of their effort to secure alternative funding sources.
As a result of the substantial budget cut that has affected the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics Online will cease being funded by that agency as of August 1st, 2012.
For over 40 years, Sourcebook has served as a standard reference tool in the field of criminal justice. We are proud to have offered reliable data on a variety of crime and justice issues to a wide scope of users.
We are actively seeking ways to maintain the services offered by Sourcebook and any development in that direction will be posted here.
We thank you for your support throughout the years and encourage you to respond to our brief survey. Your feedback will be kept anonymous and will be helpful in our efforts to procure other funding sources.
Today, our pals at the Sunlight Foundation released Scout, a new tool that allows you to create customized keyword alerts to notify you whenever issues you care about are included in legislative or regulatory actions -- at both the state and federal level! They'll also soon release their Open States tool to target the legislative process of all 50 states.
Start by entering a keyword or phrase you would like to get updates about, such as the vaguely defined "cyber threat" included in CISPA or any references to the "Digital Millennium Copyright Act." Scout then saves your subscriptions and sends notifications via email or text message whenever the subscribed issue or bill is talked about on the floor of Congress, mentioned in new regulations, appears in state and federal legislation or when Congress is moving forward for a vote. Through your profile you can create as many alerts as you'd like and group them by tags with the additional option to make them public for others to follow your issues. You can also complement a Scout subscription by adding optional external RSS feeds, such as press releases from a member of Congress or an issue-based blog.
[HT to BoingBoing!]
Here are 2 recent items analyzing Hathitrust and Google books for their efficacy in giving access to Federal government documents. The first is an article by Laura Sare (Texas A&M) and compares Hathitrust with Google Books. The second is a presentation by Brian Vetruba (Washington U in St Louis) at "Leveraging Your Strengths: Regional Government Documents Conference" at the Federal Reserve Bank St. Louis on May 4, 2012.
A Comparison of HathiTrust and Google Books Using Federal Publications. Laura Sare. Practical Academic Librarianship: The International Journal of the SLA Academic Division. 2(1) 2012 p. 1-25. (attached below. Fair use claim)
Hearing Tuesday 6/19/12 “Economic Impact of Ending or Reducing Funding for the ACS and other Government statistics"Submitted by jrjacobs on Thu, 2012-06-14 13:06.
Finally! I hope all of our DC friends will show up for this Congressional hearing next week entitled, “The Economic Impact of Ending or Reducing Funding for the American Community Survey and other Government Statistics” being held by the Congressional Joint Economic Committee (JEC). As we've argued over and over, these types of data/statistics are critical to a well-functioning democracy. Here's a great chance for the American public to shut down the misguided and unsupported perspectives of Representative Daniel Webster and other politicians of his ilk. Support the ACS and the Census!
The U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC), will hold a hearing entitled, “The Economic Impact of Ending or Reducing Funding for the American Community Survey and other Government Statistics,” at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 19, 2012, in room 210 of the Cannon House Office Building.
WHAT: Hearing on “The Economic Impact of Ending or Reducing Funding for the American Community Survey and other Government Statistics”
WHO: Mr. Kenneth Simonson, Chief Economist
The Associated General Contractors of America and Vice President,
National Association for Business Economics
The Honorable Vincent P. Barabba, Former Director of the Census Bureau (1973-1976;
1979-1981) and Current Chairman
Market Insight Corporation
The Honorable Keith Hall, Senior Research Fellow
Mercatus Center at George Mason University and former Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor
The Honorable Grant D. Aldonas, Principal Managing Director
Split Rock International
WHEN: 2:30 p.m., Tuesday, June 19, 2012
WHERE: 210 Cannon House Office Building
Building off of last week's post on the Obama Administration's new digital government strategy, I came across this analysis over at TechPresident: "White House Rolls Out New Plan for Digital Government".
Among the changes called for in the plan:
- Within six months, the Office of Management and Budget will release new government-wide standards for open data, content, and web application programming interfaces. Agencies will have another six months to make sure they are following those policies. They are also going to be asked to take two customer-facing online services and expose the information it delivers through APIs to "appropriate audiences," meaning some set of developers will be able to build applications around them without necessarily working in close concert with the agency providing the data.
- Agencies will be asked to publish ever more data through APIs and as structured data, which are the building blocks of modern web design and mobile-ready websites. The White House line on this is that it will also encourage outside developers to build new businesses on top of government data.
- The General Services Administration will establish a Digital Services Innovation Center to work with agencies to modernize how they interact with citizens on the web.
- The White House will begin releasing its own source code on GitHub and launch a "presidential innovation fellowship" program to bring developers from the private sector into government for six-to-12-month projects.
- The federal government will work to develop "MyGov," a prototype central hub for citizens to access all the services and information they're looking for from government online.
- Through programs like one intended to encourage small businesses to compete for government business, the White House will work to change IT procurement practices and cut down on the number of high-dollar, low-output contracts. Other procurement-related initiatives include a government-wide vehicle for mobile device and wireless service contracting and government-wide guidance on bring-your-own-device policies.
- Data.gov, the federal repository for government data available online, will transition away from being a hub for data files and towards a central clearing house of government APIs that developers can incorporate into web applications.
While we're excited that the White House is continuing to espouse the importance of open government principles, our concern is that the plan (PDF) does not address digital preservation or authenticity, two critical issues for librarians in guaranteeing long-term FREE access to government information -- and issues we addressed in a 2010 letter to then deputy CTO for Open Government Beth Noveck.
It's all well and good to talk about IT reform, shared IT infrastructure and services, APIs etc, but who's going to manage all of this cool digital stuff for the long-term? And where will the funding (or RE-funding) come from to keep Data.gov afloat in order to manage all of the APIs? In an era where GPO's FY2012 request for $6million to fund continuing development of their Federal Digital System (FDsys) is met with $0 funding by the House and only slightly less catastrophic $500,000 by the Senate, talk is all well and good. Digital infrastructure and services, and more importantly the staff to manage them, costs $$ -- arguably much more $$ than distribution and preservation of paper collections in the FDLP. We need a government and politicians who won't short-change open government and transparency. We need them and the public to realize that "online" does NOT equal "free beer" but "free kittens!"
Here's more news from our Canadian colleagues regarding the ongoing erosion of library services and Library and Archives Canada (LAC). The announced cuts to the LAC include:
- Elimination of 30% of archivists and archival assistants;
- Reduction of digitization and circulation staff by 50%;
- Reduction of preservation and conservation staff;
- Closure of the interlibrary loans unit;
- Elimination of the National Archival Development Program (NADP) which supports -programming at provincial, regional and university archives across Canada.
The following libraries will also close or be affected:
Canadians or other concerned individuals can write, email or telephone their Member of Parliament or contact the Prime Minister directly via email [firstname.lastname@example.org] or fax [613-941-6900] to register their concerns about these cuts.
Additional information on LAC & NADP activities are listed below:
I've got a google search alert set up for "CRS report" OR "Congressional Research Service" and thought I'd share the CRS reports in my most recent alert. If you're not familiar with this service, it's a handy way to keep track of issues or subjects. Go to http://www.google.com/alerts to set up alerts, or do a search on google news and scroll down to the bottom of the page to create an alert for your search.
Here's the latest CRS reports in the news:
- Taiwanese air force faces plane shortage by 2020. Taipei Times. "The annual report by the Congressional Research Service, entitled Taiwan: Major US Arms Sales Since 1990 — which Defense News has called “required reading inside Taiwan defense circles and among US defense officials working with the island’s military” — provides a detailed analysis of US arms sales to Taiwan over more than two decades."
- The Domestic Terrorist Threat: Background and Issues for Congress. CRS Report R41780. Posted on the FAS Secrecy News site.
- eNewsUSA: CRS Report On GHG Emissions & Canadian Oil Sands
- China's Stranglehold on Rare Earths to Loosen as North American Production Facilities Come Online. Finance.yahoo.com. "According to a Congressional Research Service (CRS) Report in April China currently produces 97 percent of the world's rare earth oxides." I found the 2011 CRS report posted on OpenCRS but the 2012 report has not been made public yet.*
- Fox Mangles Data To Claim "The Poor" Are Getting "Richer". Media Matters. "The CRS report notes that "although the rank of the United States differs somewhat from one study to the next, as discussed below, the United States typically is found to be among the least mobile of the advanced economies." [Congressional Research Service, 3/7/12]"
*Our readers may or may not know that the Library of Congress does NOT make CRS reports public, nor are they distributed to libraries in the Federal Depository Library Program. The only way to make a CRS report public is for member of Congress to release it or for a citizen to request it from her/his representative. Many in the library and govt transparency communities have been trying for years to persuade CRS to change their policy that views CRS reports as confidential queries with members of Congress and begin to officially release them to the public. OpenCRS and other sites like Steven Aftergood's Secrecy News regularly post CRS reports, but this is done only because CRS refuses to release them to the public. Please contact your representative and ask them to push CRS to change their policy.
Our pal Josh Tauberer at Govtrack.us wrote recently that he's started a new Docket page on which readers can now know up to a week ahead when a bill is scheduled to come to the floor of the House or Senate. He was able to cobble together the data needed to do this because of the freely available -- and new -- House website called docs.house.gov and Senate.gov where the Senate's floor for the next day is published. And don't forget to follow govtrack for tweets on the upcoming bills. Way to use structured, open government data, Josh!!
We've been tracking on HR 5326 "Making appropriations for the Departments of Commerce and Justice, Science, and Related Agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2013" and more specifically the Webster-Lankford amendment (which passed the House on May 9, 2012 by a vote of 232 - 190) which cuts funding for the American Community Survey. Data collected by the ACS are used by policy makers to determine the distribution of federal funding for everything from schools to roads and bridges, to emergency services and Medicaid benefits -- and is of vital interest to researchers, teachers, students and the public to learn more about and track on issues important to their communities.
If you care about this vital program, please sign the Save the American Community Survey petition. It's crucial that our Federal lawmakers know about the public's concern, and understand why they need the ACS to do their very jobs!
UPDATE 5/22/12 noon PST: The Sunday NY Times, in an article entitled "The Beginning of the End of the Census?" put it succinctly:
This survey of American households has been around in some form since 1850, either as a longer version of or a richer supplement to the basic decennial census. It tells Americans how poor we are, how rich we are, who is suffering, who is thriving, where people work, what kind of training people need to get jobs, what languages people speak, who uses food stamps, who has access to health care, and so on.
It is, more or less, the country’s primary check for determining how well the government is doing — and in fact what the government will be doing. The survey’s findings help determine how over $400 billion in government funds is distributed each year.
But last week, the Republican-led House voted to eliminate the survey altogether, on the grounds that the government should not be butting its nose into Americans’ homes.