Month of February, 2007
GovBudget.com is a publication of The Federal Budget Group LLC, led by Charles S. Konigsberg, veteran budget and fiscal policy advisor to three U.S. Senators and three White House Budget Directors.
We have designed GovBudget.com to provide you with a user-friendly web portal to the Federal Budget. We believe that every American should be able to access clear, accurate and nonpartisan information on how our government raises and spends nearly $3 trillion per year.
The information is not very detailed, but it is a quick, simple, easy to understand overview. See also: User-Friendly Federal Budget Web Site?, Government Technology, February 28, 2007 News Release
There have been a few stories recently about C-Span and whether or not its broadcasts are copyrighted. (See list at end of this post.) This started when Republicans claimed that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi illegally posted C-Span video clips of House floor footage. Later, they withdrew that complaint after some clarification by C-Span of their policies. The clarifications led to more confusion, though. Now Nancy Scola has posted a very useful and clear article about the issue:
- Who Owns What C-Span Airs?, Nancy Scola, The OpenHouse Project, February 27th, 2007.
This kind of issue will undoubtedly continue to be important to the extent that privatization of government communication expands and private companies and politicians attempt to use "intellectual property" law to constrain access of public information to the public.
- Congressional Video In Vogue, Tech Daily Dose, February 16, 2007.
- C-Span's IP Policies For Congress Called Inconsistent, by Andrew Noyes, National Journal's Technology Daily, Feb 16, 2007 PM edition, [subscription required]
- Which Videos Are Protected? Lawmakers Get a Lesson, by Noam Cohen, The New York Times, February 26, 2007.
- MetaVid (a project which seeks to capture, stream, archive and facilitate real-time collective [re]mediation of legislative proceedings.)
- Ripping (off) the Congressional video record by Carl Malamud.
This is an interesting article about Google increasing its business with the federal government. Yesterday, Google kicked off "a two-day sales meeting that attracted nearly 200 federal contractors, engineers and uniformed military members eager to learn more about its technology offerings."
- Google Searches For Government Work, by Sara Kehaulani Goo and Alec Klein, Washington Post, February 28, 2007; D03.
An interesting tidbit in the article describes how government agencies use enhanced versions of Google Earth to display information for the military on the ground in Iraq and to track airplanes that fight forest fires across the country. The article says that the technology behind Google Earth "got its start in the intelligence community, in a CIA-backed firm called Keyhole. Google acquired Keyhole in 2004."
Yesterday, Google's partner, Lockheed Martin, demonstrated a Google Earth product that it helped design for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency's work in Iraq. These included displays of key regions of the country and outlined Sunni and Shiite neighborhoods in Baghdad, as well as U.S. and Iraqi military bases in the city. Neither Lockheed nor Google would say how the geospatial agency uses the data.
Congress killed the Total Information Awareness (TIA) program in 2003 and several new programs have been reported to take its place. (See Total Information Awareness just changed its name FGI, 2006-02-26.) A forthcoming GAO report looks at the use of the Analysis, Dissemination, Visualization, Insight and Semantic Enhancement (ADVISE) system.
- New Profiling Program Raises Privacy Concerns, by Ellen Nakashima and Alec Klein, Washington Post, February 28, 2007; D03.
The Department of Homeland Security is testing a data-mining program that would attempt to spot terrorists by combing vast amounts of information about average Americans, such as flight and hotel reservations. Similar to a Pentagon program killed by Congress in 2003 over concerns about civil liberties, the new program could take effect as soon as next year.
But researchers testing the system are likely to already have violated privacy laws by reviewing real information...
There is a report on the Daily Kos that attempts to document removal of embarrassing materials from the White House website.
- (Updated) The White House website is getting scrubbed by smintheus, Daily Kos, (Sun Feb 25, 2007 at 12:39:00 PM PST)
Some of the post has "proven" facts and other bits are labeled "Speculation." I would be very interested if anyone in the library community can verify or disprove any of the facts or speculations in the article. Also, are there official print resources that document the information that smintheus finds missing at the White House web site? Please let us at FGI know what you find.
If we can't verify or disprove any of this, perhaps we should ask ourselves why we can't. What are we as depository libraries doing if we can't answer what should be a simple straightforward question about who said what, when?
"It is important to understand that scientists don't know for sure what climate change will bring. Some changes brought about by climate change will be good. If you live in a very cool climate, warmer temperatures might be welcome. Days and nights could be more comfortable and people in the area may be able to grow different and better crops than they could before. But it is also true that changes in some places will not be very good at all."
One of my classmates pointed this gem out.
This new 22 page report by Nancy Kranich, KS Consultants, Past President of the American Library Association, formerly associate dean of libraries at New York University, discusses the Universal Service provisions of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and the role of libraries in providing internet access to the public.
- Libraries as Universal Service Providers, by Nancy Kranich, Universal Service Project, Benton Foundation, December 1, 2006 [abstract]. Full text at http://www.benton.org/benton_files/kranich.doc
She says that libraries are now the number one point of access for the public outside the home, school, and work, leveling the playing field for those left behind in the digital age. But universal service programs need increased funding, better coordination, policy changes, and service improvements if every American is to have the opportunity to participate in the 21st century information society.
NYU Libraries Hosts Live Webcast of National Event Exploring Government Secrecy and Openness During Sunshine WeekSubmitted by ggano on Mon, 2007-02-26 18:40.
A live webcast of a discussion on the impact of government suppression and manipulation of scientific information on public health, safety, and accountability at national, state, and local levels, entitled â€œClosed Doors; Open Democracies?â€, will be hosted by New York University Librariesâ€™ Business and Government Documents Center and the Coles Science Salon on Monday, March 12, from 1-2:30 p.m. The webcast will be shown at 19 W. 4th Street, room 101 in New York City.
The event features Ira Flatow, host and executive producer of NPRâ€™s â€œScience Fridayâ€ and two panels of experts in a national dialogue addressing issues of access to government information. The webcast is free and open to the public. Visit OpenTheGovernment.org for a list of venues, registration information, and more.
The first panel will focus on national issues and will feature such speakers as Francesca Grifo, senior scientist and director of Scientific Integrity Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, presenting an overview on â€œhow secrecy can make you sickâ€; Rick Piltz, whistleblower on the Bush administrationâ€™s manipulation of scientific reporting related to global warming; Susan Wood, former FDA official who quit over the delay of Plan B; and Jay Dyckman, director of The Knowledge Project.
Panel 2 focuses on state and local issues. Speakers include Dorothy Biggs, former EPA librarian; Bill Wolfe, director, NJ Chapter of the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility; and Mark Tapscott, editorial page editor of the Washington Examiner.
The program originates from the National Press Club in Washington D.C. and kicks off Sunshine Week 2007.
The website OpenCongress.org was launched today by the Participatory Politics Foundation with help from the Sunlight Foundation. As stated on the website: "OpenCongress brings together official government data with news and blog coverage to give you the real story behind each bill" and also "OpenCongress is a free, open-source, non-profit, and non-partisan web resource with a mission to help make Congress more transparent and to encourage civic engagement." The site incorporates:
- Official Congressional information from Thomas, made available by GovTrack.us: bills, votes, committee reports, and more.
- News articles about bills and Members of Congress from Google News.
- Blog posts about bills and Members of Congress from Google Blog Search and Technorati.
- Campaign contribution information for every Member of Congress from the website of the non-profit, non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics, OpenSecrets.org.
- Congress Gossip Blog: a blog written by the site editors of OpenCongress that highlights useful news and blog reporting from around the web. The blog also solicits tips, either anonymous or attributed, from political insiders, citizen journalists, and the public in order to build public knowledge about Congress.
According to Govtrack creator Josh Tauberer, "OpenCongress is based (mostly) on the data set that GovTrack assembles and makes available for others to reuse, so I'm particularly happy that someone has finally reused it to make something new. As you can see from the front pages of the two sites, the focuses of the sites are fairly different, GovTrack being mostly reference and tracking, while OpenCongress is taking a stab at some analysis."
I'm sure every library in the country has a copy or three of the Iraq Study Group Report but here's a fascinating remix of the report by Laphamâ€™s Quarterly in association with the Institute for the Future of the Book. The project brought together a "quorum of informed sources (historians, generals, politicians both foreign and domestic) to add marginal notes and brief commentaries at any point in the text seeming to require further clarification or forthright translation into plain English."