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Samantha Bee answers a govdocs reference question

Did you ever have one of those reference questions that involves a government-collected statistic that you just know must exist, but you cannot find? We all have. Samantha Bee of the Daily show looks at GAO and CDC documents and even the National Sheriff’s Association. She interviews Nate Silver! But, she discovers, some data do not exist…

  • A Shot in the Dark. Samantha Bee attempts to uncover statistics about the excessive use of lethal force by the police, only to discover that this data is mysteriously nonexistent. Aired: 10/07/14 (7:09).

Best State and Local Government Websites for 2014

Each year, Government Technology magazine and e.Republic’s Center for Digital Government sponsor the creation of a list of the best state and local government websites. This year a panel of last year’s winners, former government officials, and executives from the Center for Digital Government selected websites that tried new things, while remaining functional. They examine 300 government websites and judged them on their innovative qualities, usefulness, and efficiency and economy.

The winners include the State of Hawaii, The District of Columbia, and Oakland County, Michigan.

See the article and the complete list at the link above.

CREW Recommends Updating House Information Rules

There are many excellent recommendations in the new report on improving transparency and accountability in the House of Representatives from CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington), the Sunlight Foundation, and the OpenGov Foundation.

Some that may be of particular interest to government information professionals include:

  • Another call to make Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports publicly available, and an interim recommendation that the House should should publish a list of all widely-distributed reports issued by CRS.

  • A recommendation that the House should list all reports to be made to Congress on a “dashboard” that indicates when a report was received.

  • The report notes that the House generates and receives tremendous amounts of information, but often is not clear what information is held by the House, who is responsible for it, and whether it can be made available to the public. It recommends that the House should undertake an audit of the documents or other information that it holds, who is responsible for the information, the format in which it is stored, and where and how it can be obtained by the public.

The report notes that The Joint Committee on the Library (JCL) and the Joint Committee on Printing (JCP) have met only once for 5 minutes in the 113th Congress, that they no longer have their own websites, and that, from a public perspective, they are effectively moribund. It recommends that the House explore ways to reinvigorate oversight of the Library of Congress and the Government Printing Office. It should particularly focus on making sure that Congress has sufficient capacity to effectively ensure that these agencies are properly performing their roles of making information available to the public, and that the oversight process in performed in a way that the public can be properly engaged.

It is an excellent report! Check it out!

Best Titles Ever! Landmark!

Aimee Slater says that the Best Titles Ever! Tumbler posted its 100th Best Title today! It is attracting dozens of followers — including some who are not in the government information librarian community, which is pretty awesome.

BTE explores non-copyright government sources, particularly ones with titles that are funny, intriguing, interesting, convoluted or clever, or any combination of the above.

Aimee sends her thanks to some of the more frequent contributors of Best Titles including Rob Lopresti from WWU and Lynda from UNCG.

Don’t forget to check it out at besttitlesever.tumblr.com (the link is always right there at the top of every FGI page!) and contribute your own Best Titles Ever!

Must See Presentations on Vital Statistics and Immigration Statistics

These presentations from the September 12, 2014 Quarterly Meeting of COPAFS are must-sees for government information professionals. The theme for this meeting was “Coming, Going, Being Born and Dying: Immigration and Vital Statistics.” The collection of these data and the publication and distribution of the data and the statistics derived from the data are complex, even complicated, but these four presentation contain an amazing wealth of information, tips, examples, and links that you will refer to again and again.

COPAFS, the Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics, represents over 300,000 individual researchers, educators, public health professionals, civic groups, and businesses that rely on the quality and accessibility of statistics that can only be effectively collected by the federal government.

Summary of meeting (pdf).

Presentations from the September 12, 2014 Quarterly Meeting

  • DHS Office of Immigration Statistics:  Data, Reporting, and Analysis (pdf, 291 KB) by Bryan Baker, Office of Immigration Statistics.
    A walk-through of a complex network of sources of data on migration to and from the country including flows of Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR), data from the State Department and the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS), naturalization data, data on temporary foreign born visitors to the U.S. from Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and more.
  • Data Sources on the Foreign Born and Immigration from the U.S. Census Bureau (pdf, 798 KB) by Elizabeth Grieco, Chief, Foreign-Born Population Branch, Population Division, U.S. Census Bureau.
    Discussion of Census data useful for analyzing characteristics of the foreign-born population and immigration into the U.S. (The American Community Survey (ACS) is the preeminent, though not only source of data on the foreign born population.)

  • Vital for a Reason (pdf, 877 KB) by Shawna Webster, Chief Operating Officer, National Association for Public Health Statistics and Information Systems.
  • What’s New (and Improved!) in Vital Statistics  (pdf, 831 KB) by Joyce A. Martin, Division of Vital Statistics, National Center for Health Statistics.
    Webster and Martin review the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program under which 57 different areas (50 States, DC, New York City, and 5 U.S. Territories) report vital statistics to the federal government. NAPHSIS and NCHS collaborate in efforts to standardize reporting so that data are comparable, enhance data quality, improve timeliness, and increase confidential data accessibility. Webster demonstrated just how far they had come in getting States to adopt electronic reporting of birth (almost all States; See Webster’s slides) and death registrations. She emphasized the facts that vital statistics users’ needs are best met through (near) real-time mortality surveillance and partnerships that support the modernization of vital statistics. Martin reports that coverage of births and deaths is basically at 100-percent.