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Science and Congress

Take a few minutes away from politics and read this fascinating article! One would think that Congress would want to have good solid scientific advice and not have to rely on think tanks or the Executive Branch agencies for an understanding of complex scientific issues. Well, in 1972 Congress passed and President Nixon signed a bill that set up the The Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) to do just that. Twenty years later, Congress withdrew all funding for the OTA and has never given it a penny since. (Okay. politics is involved…. Sorry.)

Why did this happen? What are the arguments for and against? What lessons can we learn about agencies just being denied funding? Read on!

And don’t forget to visit the collection of OTA documents at the UNT CyberCemetery!

Class Action Suit against PACER Overcharges Proceeds

PACER Class Action Advances By JUNE WILLIAMS Courthouse News Service (September 27, 2016).

A federal judge refused Monday to dismiss a class action accusing the U.S. government of systematically overcharging for access to court records through its system PACER, short for Public Access to Court Electronic Records.

Bryndon Fisher sued the United States for a putative class, claiming that “PACER overcharges users because of a faulty pricing formula,” U.S. Court of Federal Claims Judge Thomas Wheeler wrote in his order refusing the government’s motion to dismiss.

Carl Malamud fighting for public information

A story about Carl Malamud’s long fight to keep public information public. Details his current fight against a lawsuit that seeks to keep laws that cover building codes, plumbing regulations, and product safety rules for baby seats accessible only for a fee.

  • Carl Malamud has standards by Steven Levy, Backchannel (Sep 12, 2016).
  • For the past 25 years or so, Carl Malamud’s lonely mission has been to seize on the internet’s potential for spreading information — public information that people have a right to see, hear, and read.

    Happy Birthday National Park Service

    Today is the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service.

    Our friend Gary Price has a nice collection of 10 Digital Resources to Help Celebrate 100th Birthday of the National Park Service over at infoDocket. Thanks Gary!

    NPR has a series celebrating the National Parks: national park service centennial as well as a good overview of The National Park Service Plans For The Future.

    Unfortunately, Congress has cut the funding for the National Park Service by 15 percent over the past 15 years.

    “Open Government.” Register to use?

    The Sunlight Foundation notes that when an agency like the Department of State publishes a draft of its Open Government plan, the public should not have to provide the agency with personal information in order to read the draft and provide feedback.

    Sunlight is providing a a PDF of the State Department’s open government plan so you will not have to agree to the terms of service or privacy policy to read it.

    Read about what is going on here: State Department requests feedback on draft 2016 Open Government Plan

    Get the Department of State plan here.


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