Month of November, 2011
Thanks OMB Watch and the Sunlight Foundation! These two open government groups just sent a letter to the Senate about the E-Gov Fund in the second “minibus” appropriations bill. In the letter, the groups raise and echo concerns regarding the funding level for e-government in the Statement of Administration Policy concerning H.R. 2354. They state that funding levels are inadequate to support crucial transparency programs such as USAspending.gov and Data.gov and ask that the E-Gov Fund remain a separate budget line to preserve the reporting requirements of the E-Gov Act, which provide transparency about how this money is spent.
Here's the text of the OMBWatch/Sunlight letter:
November 16, 2011
Re: FY 2012 Appropriations for the Electronic Government Fund
We are writing to urge you to protect funding for the Electronic Government Fund at the General Services Administration in H.R. 2354, the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. As currently written, H.R. 2354 would not provide adequate funding for the E-Gov Fund’s important programs, which provide critical support for the construction of a more transparent and efficient government and serve as a building block for private-sector innovations that create high-tech jobs.
The E-Gov Fund has a proven track record of successful transparency projects that have delivered efficiency improvements and increased government accountability. For instance, USAspending.gov and the IT Dashboard have helped root out government waste and inefficiency and recently led to the elimination of some $3 billion in failing technology projects. PaymentAccuracy.gov shines a light on improper federal payments, which total billions of dollars each year, and Challenge.gov provides a low-cost platform to help agencies bring the public in to identify more efficient solutions to problems facing the country.
In addition, E-Gov Fund projects provide the framework for vibrant private-sector business and job creation. The thousands of government data sets now available through Data.gov are building blocks for innovative new IT products. For instance, the search engine Bing now integrates Medicare quality data into searches for hospitals. Brightscope, a start-up company, has raised $2 million in venture capital and created 30 jobs through their analysis of retirement plan data from the Department of Labor.
Unfortunately, cuts to the E-Gov Fund in FY 2011 have already hurt successful projects. Needed upgrades to increase transparency and improve data quality have been delayed or abandoned, and two early-stage projects have been terminated. Additional cuts will further hamper efforts to make government more efficient and transparent.
These cuts are penny-wise and pound-foolish. The E-Gov Fund supports powerful tools for reducing waste, fraud, and abuse and for creating private-sector jobs, and given appropriate funding, these projects result in benefits far in excess of their costs.
To support continued transparency, efficiency, and job creation, we respectfully urge you to restore full funding for the E-Gov Fund. In particular, we ask you to support the president’s recommendation of $34 million to preserve these important programs.
We also ask that the E-Gov Fund remain separate from the Federal Citizen Services Fund, as requested in the Statement of Administration Policy on H.R. 2354. Because the proposed Information and Engagement for Citizens account would not be subject to reporting requirements of the Electronic Government Act of 2002 and has not been authorized by Congress, combining the funds would decrease government transparency and accountability.
We appreciate your time and attention to this issue. If you have any questions or would like to discuss this issue further, please contact Sam Rosen-Amy of OMB Watch at (202) 683-4806 or Daniel Schuman of the Sunlight Foundation at (202) 742-1520 x 273.
OMB Watch Sunlight Foundation
The Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) released a report today entitled Exploring the Digital Nation: Computer and Internet Use at Home (PDF). This report investigates broadband Internet use in the United States and finds that disparities continue to exist in broadband Internet adoption among demographic and geographic groups. The report also delves into the reasons why households have not adopted broadband Internet.
Broadband internet adoption has increased substantially in only a few years, rising to 68% of households in 2010 from only 51% of households three years earlier and from 64% in 2009, the last time ESA and NTIA looked at these issues.
While this points to progress, a digital divide still exists between different racial and ethnic groups and between urban and rural areas in the United States. Broadband adoption rates varied substantially between different racial and ethnic groups, with 81% of Asian and 72% of White households having broadband Internet access, compared to only 55% and 57% of Black and Hispanic households. The urban-rural divide is also wide, with 70% of urban households having broadband Internet access compared to only 57% of rural households. Socio-economic differences, such as income and education, explain much – but not all – of this divide.
Here is what we know: Households that do not subscribe to any Internet service—dial-up or broadband —cited as the main reasons a lack of need or interest (47%); lack of affordability (24%); and an inadequate computer (15%). However, 27% of dial-up users -- a rapidly declining group of users --- indicated that they did not have broadband internet access service in their area.
Access the Full Text Report (72 Pages; PDF)
- Sixty-eight percent of American households used broadband Internet in 2010, up from 64 percent in 2009. Only three percent of households relied on dial-up access to the Internet in 2010, down from five percent in 2009. Another nine percent of households had people who accessed the Internet only outside of the home.
- All told, approximately 80 percent of American households had at least one Internet user, whether inside or outside the home and regardless of technology type used to access the Internet.
- Cable modems and DSL were the leading broadband technologies for home Internet adoption, with 32 percent and 23 percent of households, respectively, using these services.
Differences in Household Broadband Adoption
- Households with lower incomes and less education, as well as Blacks, Hispanics, people with disabilities, and rural residents, were less likely to have Internet service at home.
- Eighty-one percent of Asian households and 72 percent of White households had broadband at home, compared to 57 percent of Hispanic households and 55 percent of Black households.
- Seventy percent of urban households had broadband at home, compared to 57 percent of rural households.
- Households with school-age children were more likely to have broadband at home (78 percent) than the national rate. Older householders, particularly those ages 65 and older (45 percent), were less likely to have broadband at home.
- Less than half (43 percent) of households with annual incomes below $25,000 had broadband access at home, while 93 percent of households with incomes exceeding $100,000 had broadband.
- Average broadband adoption in 2010 varied by state from about half (52 percent) of all households to 80 percent.
Role of Socio-Economic Factors
- Socio-economic differences do not explain the entire broadband adoption gap. For example, after accounting for socio-economic and geographic factors, Black and Hispanic households still lag White households in broadband adoption by 11 percentage points, though the gap between Asian and White households disappears.
- After accounting for socio-economic and demographic factors, rural households still lag urban households in broadband adoption by five percentage points.
- In contrast, differences in socio-economic characteristics do explain a substantial portion but not all of the broadband adoption lag among people with disabilities.
Reasons for Not Subscribing to Broadband at Home
- The main reasons cited for not having Internet access at home were a lack of interest or need (47 percent), the expense (24 percent), and the lack of an adequate computer (15 percent).
- Not surprisingly, individuals without broadband service at home relied on locations such as public libraries (20 percent) or other people’s houses (12 percent) to go online.
Long-term Trends in Internet and Computer Use
- Between 2001 and 2010, broadband Internet use at home, regardless of technology type, rose from 9 percent to 68 percent of households.
- Between 1997 and 2010, Internet use among households, regardless of technology type, rose from 19 percent to 71 percent.
- More than three quarters (77 percent) of American households had a computer at home in 2010, up from 62 percent in 2003.
Access the Full Text Report (72 Pages; PDF)
Reposted with Permission from INFOdocket.com
On November 4, 2010, President Obama signed Executive Order 13556, "Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI)," and designated the National Archives and Records Administration as the Executive Agent "to implement this order and oversee agency actions to ensure compliance with this order."
On November 4, 2011, as required by this Executive Order, the National Archives Controlled Unclassified Information Office established a publically available registry reflecting the initial categories and subcategories of unclassified information that require dissemination or safeguarding controls consistent with and pursuant to law, regulation, and Government-wide policy. This registry is online.
The CUI program will be implemented in phases based on compliance plans and target dates to be submitted by executive agencies and departments. When fully implemented, the CUI program will require executive departments and agencies to exclusively use these categories for controlling and marking such unclassified information. The National Archives will consult with the agencies and the Office of Management and Budget and then set implementation deadlines for CUI, to include for applying standardized CUI markings.
Currently, there are more than 100 different policies for such information across the Executive branch. This plethora of policies has created inefficiency and confusion, leading to a patchwork system that fails to adequately safeguard information requiring protection, and unnecessarily restricts information sharing by creating needless impediments.
Read the Complete Announcement
"The federal government and its geospatial partners today unveiled www.geoplatform.gov, a prototype Geospatial Platform website providing an initial view of the future of user-friendly, integrated, federal data collections on common geographic maps." (Federal Geographic Data Committee Launches New Geospatial Website, press release, U.S. Department of the Interior (11/09/2011).
"This prototype version of the Geospatial Platform combines map-based data and tools with the latest internet technologies to deliver geospatial information in a simple, understandable package. Users—including the public, federal agencies and their partners—can easily find federally-maintained geospatial data, services and applications, as well as access data from our partners across State, Tribal, Regional and local governments."
In May 1975, the Watergate Special Prosecution Force (WSPF) decided that it was necessary to question former President Richard M. Nixon in connection with various investigations being conducted by the WSPF. Mr. Nixon was questioned over the period of two days, June 23 and June 24, 1975, and the testimony was taken as part of various investigations being conducted by the January 7, 1974, Grand Jury for the District of Columbia (the third Watergate Grand Jury). Chief Judge George Hart signed an order authorizing that the sworn deposition of Mr. Nixon be taken at the Coast Guard Station in San Mateo, California with two members of the grand jury present.
- press release, National Archives and Records Administration.
- Nixon Grand Jury Records, National Archives and Records Administration. Files from the National Archives' WSPF collection including the transcript of President Nixon's grand jury testimony and associated materials.
- Nixon Grand Jury Records at GPO, FDsys.
- Nixon Grand Jury Records at Scribd.
The Senate is expected to decide as early as Wednesday whether to throw out the Federal Communication Commission's "net neutrality" rules before they go into effect Nov. 20. The Los Angeles Times editorial board member Jon Healey explains the debate around the FCC's proposed rules and does as good a job of summarizing the issues as I have seen.
- Backgrounder on 'net neutrality', By Jon Healey, Los Angeles Times (Nov 9, 2011)
The stakes are high for the phone and cable companies that sell Internet access services, as well as the companies that offer content and services through the Internet.
... In essence, the debate boils down to a question of what freedom online is most worth preserving: the freedom from regulation, or the freedom from interference by ISPs.
The National Archives and Records Administration is active in using social media. It also recently announced its intention to create a "Citizen Archivist Dashboard that will encourage the public to pitch in via social media tools on a number of our projects."
- What's Next?, AOTUS (Oct 19, 2011).
Access to records in this century means digital access. For many people, if it is not online, it doesn’t exist. The use of social media to increase access is the new norm. NARA has been going after innovative tools and projects that increase digital access to our records, including projects that invite public participation. We are developing a Citizen Archivist Dashboard that will encourage the public to pitch in via social media tools on a number of our projects. You will hear about these and more of our projects at next week’s McGowan Forum, "What’s Next in the Social Media Revolution."
- From Access to Engagement, by Pamela Wright (Nov 7, 2011). [pdf]
- National Archives to launch Citizen Archivist Dashboard, By Joseph Marks, NextGov (11/07/2011).
The National Archives and Records Administration plans to launch in December an online Citizen Archivist Dashboard through which volunteers can tag, transcribe and write articles about scanned NARA documents, said Pamela Wright, the agency's chief digital access strategist.
- Social Media and Web 2.0 at the National Archives.
...a comprehensive list of NARA's social media initiatives and those of our affiliate organizations. Please visit us often to see NARA's expanding Web 2.0 and social media projects.
Those of us of a certain age remember the debates in libraries over "access vs. ownership." We don't see those terms used as much any more, but the issue remains with us as libraries increasingly opt for a service-only, libraries-without-collections model in which they license access to information rather than acquire information that they can carefully select, organize, preserve, and for which they provide not just access, but access and services customized to their user-communities.
The distinction between having "access" to information -- where the access (and fees) are controlled by others -- and owning information has mostly been too subtle for the popular press. You can see this as the popular press regularly refers to Google as a "Library" and now refers to Amazon's new e-book loaning feature as a "lending library." This loose use of the term "library" diminishes its association with free-access libraries that are run by and accountable to their communities and replaces it with an association with fee-based commercial services accountable only to stockholders or company owners.
So I found it very interesting to see not one but two recent articles in the consumer press that make a clear distinction between access and ownership and make at least a tentative argument in favor of ownership even for individual consumers.
- Why Amazon lending worries me, By JP Mangalindan, CNN Money (November 4, 2011).
For users, there's a drawback that isn't nearly as obvious yet, largely because it's still early days. By subscribing to one of these services, they're relinquishing ownership over the content they consume.... It's renting versus owning in its most basic form. In one scenario, that money is going towards something that's yours. In the other, you're paying for temporary use of a good, service or property.
- What happens to ownership as the world goes digital?, By Mathew Ingram, GigaOm (Nov 4, 2011).
[T]here's also the way that renting changes our legal relationship to the content we are consuming. Amazon has shown the downsides of this in the past by actually deleting copies of e-books from people's Kindles remotely after a complaint by the rightsholder -- and those were copies that people had actually bought, not rented. One of the reasons I argued that a "Netflix for books" made sense was that it would at least make it clear to people that they didn't actually own the books they were buying, but only a short-term license to use them.
That kind of behavior could become more common as we move to a streaming, rental-style model for all content. Netflix has run into trouble by changing the terms of its service in order to promote streaming at the expense of physical DVD rental -- but what is to stop it or Amazon from altering the terms of the contract that allows you access to the content that you listen to or watch or read? Amazon was quite happy to remove access to documents that were hosted on its platform by WikiLeaks, even though the organization had not been charged with nor convicted of any crime. What if companies decide you no longer have the right to watch certain TV shows or read certain books?
Maybe if the consumer press continues this trend and continues to point to the distinction between access and ownership, the idea will migrate to libraries and we'll begin to see more libraries fighting to control information for their communities. That would be a welcome turn of events. We'd be able to get back to valuing services and collections.
It has been a another productive week at the State Agency Databases Across the Fifty States project at
SUBJECT PAGE ACTIVITY
Health Practitioner Databases (Lynn McClelland)
With the addition of HI, IL, ME, MT, NE, NY, PA, RI, SC, TN, UT, VT, VA, WA and WI. Lynn now has 33 states plus the District of Columbia represented on this page. Way to go Lynn!
OTHER WIKI ACTIVITY
See our last 7 days of activity at http://tinyurl.com/statedbs for a blow by blow description of changes to the page. Here are a few highlights:
MICHIGAN (Michael McDonnell)
Active State Chartered Credit Unions Locator - Lets you find credit unions chartered according to the Michigan Credit Union Act, 2003 PA 215, as amended. It does not include credit unions chartered by the National Credit Union Administration and credit unions chartered by other states. You can search by credit union name (or part of the name), City, county, zip code, or charter number.
NEW MEXICO (Adrienne Walker)
Historic Markers - Search through the geographic regions of New Mexico for historical markers. A brief description of each marker and its approximate location will display by region on a map by scrolling over a marker name. There is also a section of New Mexico Women Historical Markers. Citizens can also report missing historical markers and make recommendations for additional markers.
TEXAS (Ann Ellis)
Portal for Comprehensive Health Data in Texas - This portal contains statistics for births, deaths, demographics, geographic and survey data on risk factors and disease prevalence, and hospital records within the state
Our last official orphan remains Rhode Island. Will you be the one to take the last "unadopted orphan?"
If you're interested in adopting Rhode Island, check out our volunteer guide at http://wikis.ala.org/godort/index.php/SADATFS_Volunteer_Guide and then send me an e-mail if you'd like to adopt it. If you adopt Rhode Island, be prepared to put your name and contact information on the main project page AND your state page within two weeks of receiving your wiki login. See the Volunteer guide for more details.
FYI readers. GPO announced today that their legacy system, GPOAccess, is soon to go archive only. This has been a long and involved process to build FDsys, move content from GPOAccess over to the new platform and now finally sunset the older system. This has been a real community effort with much work by GPO staff as well as continuous beta testing and other input from the FDLP community.
On Friday, November 4, 2011, the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) draws one step closer to shutting down GPO Access. Once the Friday editions of daily updated content (e.g., Federal Register, Congressional Record) have been uploaded, GPO will cease updating GPO Access in terms of both database content and HTML pages. This will mark the start of the archive only phase of GPO Access and new content will only be loaded to FDsys. During this phase, GPO Access will remain publicly accessible as a reference archive.
In order to make the switchover from GPO Access to FDsys as seamless as possible for users, GPO is in the process of creating one-to-one redirects from GPO Access content to the FDsys equivalent. This will ensure that bookmarks, Web links, URLs in print publications, and other GPO Access references point to valid Web resources. Once this has been completed, GPO Access will be taken offline. A date has not yet been established for the final shutdown of GPO Access; however, it is slated for fiscal year 2012.
Libraries should take this opportunity (if they have not already done so) to review their Web sites, presentations, brochures, and other materials that reference GPO Access and work to update or replace these materials. This includes imagery and URLs.
- Download FDsys logos
- View instructions on how to create links to FDsys content
- Download or order FDsys brochures
Thank you for your patience and assistance while we make this transition.