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Free Government Information (FGI) is a place for initiating dialogue and building consensus among the various players (libraries, government agencies, non-profit organizations, researchers, journalists, etc.) who have a stake in the preservation of and perpetual free access to government information. FGI promotes free government information through collaboration, education, advocacy and research.

Big news: CIA agrees to release ORIS, one of CREST’s counterparts

This just in from Michael Best, the CIA has just announced that it will soon release Officially Released Information System, or ORIS. ORIS is the counterpart to the CREST database — the CIA Records Search Tool — begun in 1991. This is a whole lot of declassified records that will soon be available to researchers, journalists, and the public. Check out Best’s MuckRock story for FOIA’d information about the database and much more background and context. Just WOW!

CIA has agreed to release a copy of the ORIS database and waive all fees for it. ORIS, or the Officially Released Information System, was essentially a counterpart to CREST implemented in 1991. According to the proposal document, ORIS includes officially released CIA information that: Was previously classified OR Is part of the content of a classified, previously classified, or classifiable record OR Pertains to the CIA mission, functions or organizational structure OR Pertains to any aspect of sources or methods OR Is part of the content of a record of another Government entity, was previously classified or classifiable, and the CIA is identified or identifiable as the source.

It was also due to include: Releases under the FOIA, Privacy Act and MDR processes Officially sanctioned speeches Media releases Affidavits and judicial and congressional testimony Material declassified and released outside the agencyMore information as it develops. =)

via Big news: CIA agrees to release one of CRESTs counterparts | Michael Best on Patreon.

The “orderly shutdown” of NEH and 18 other agencies

It looks like University of North Texas’ Cyber cemetery is going to be busy this year, with National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) set to shut down and 18 other agencies targeted by the Trump administration for elimination. For a deeper look into Trump’s budget — and what’s getting cut! — see this recent Washington Post piece.

Since its creation in 1965, NEH has established a significant record of achievement through its grantmaking programs. Over these five decades, NEH has awarded more than $5.3 billion for humanities projects through more than 63,000 grants. That public investment has led to the creation of books, films, and museum exhibits, and to ensuring the preservation of significant cultural resources around the country. 

NEH grants have reached every part of the country and provided humanities programs and experiences to benefit all of our citizens. Hundreds of veterans leaving the military service and beginning to pursue an education have benefited from the Warrior-Scholar program, a boot camp for success in the college classroom. Students, teachers, and historians have access to the papers of President George Washington. NEH On the Road circulates traveling versions of major exhibitions to rural towns and small cities all over the map from Greenville, South Carolina, to Red Cloud, Nebraska, and beyond. Through these projects and thousands of others, the National Endowment for the Humanities has inspired and preserved what is best in American culture.

via NEH Statement on Proposed FY 2018 Budget | National Endowment for the Humanities.

Help edit the “Preserving Data in Government Act of 2017”

This is a very cool idea as well as an important policy statement. Sunlight Foundation and a diverse coalition of government transparency, data innovation, scientific groups and environment defense advocates have come together to advocate for the “Preserving Data in Government Act of 2017”, which was recently introduced in the Senate. Sunlight has put the bill up on Madison, the site that allows for public collaboration on policy documents. So here’s your chance to read the bill and add your comments and suggestions to make the bill better!



This bill, which was introduced in the U.S. Senate this spring, would require federal agencies to preserve public access to data sets and prevent the removal of those data sets from the Internet without sufficient public notice. The Sunlight Foundation, a national, nonpartisan nonprofit that advocates for open government, supports the bill — but we want to make it better. You can comment on the full text of the Preserving Data in Government Act of 2017 below. Well make sure the Senate staff that drafted the bill see your contributions.

via The Preserving Data in Government Act of 2017 | Madison.

GPO releases digital Congressional Record for the 1960s

Bound Congressional RecordThe Government Publishing Office (GPO) just announced that GPO in concert with Library of Congress have released another decade of historic bound Congressional Record, this time covering 1961 – 1970. The CR is now available on govinfo.gov for 1961 – 2006.

This release covers debates and proceedings of the 87th through the 91st Congresses. Spanning approximately 380,000 Congressional Record pages, this era covers historical topics such as:

  • The Administrations of Presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and the first two years of the Administration of President Richard M. Nixon
  • The Civil Rights Era
  • The Vietnam War
  • The Space Program and Moon Landing
  • Legislation of the Great Society and the War on Poverty, including:
    • Civil Rights Act of 1964
    • Voting Rights Act of 1965
    • Fair Housing Act of 1968
    • Medicare and Medicaid
    • Economic Opportunity Act of 1964
    • Immigration Act of 1965
    • Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965
    • Endangered Species Act of 1966
    • Public Broadcasting Act of 1967

via GPO Issues Digital Release of Historical Congressional Record for the 1960s.

Check out Endangered Data Week – April 17-21, 2017

This week is Endangered Data Week, a new effort to raise awareness about publicly available data and the threats to its creation, sharing and retention. Follow along with the conversation at the Twitter hashtag #EndangeredData, check out the Endangered Data events near you, tune in on friday for the webinar hosted by the Digital Library Federation (DLF) “Endangered Accountability: A DLF-Sponsored Webinar on FOIA, Government Data, and Transparency” and definitely sign up for the new DLF Interest Group on Records Transparency/Accountability.

There’s never been such an open window of opportunity for govt information librarians to prove their metal and work together to assure the preservation of born-digital govt information in all its guises. So jump in and get involved today!

Political events in the United States have shed new light on the fragility of publicly administered data. In just the first few weeks of the Trump administration and 115th Congress, the Environmental Protection Agency was allegedly ordered to remove climate change information from its website, the USDA removed animal welfare data from its website, and the House passed H.Res.5, specifically excluding changes to the Affordable Care Act from mandatory long-term cost data analysis. The Senate and House of Representatives have both received proposed bills (S.103 and H.R.482) prohibiting funding from being used “to design, build, maintain, utilize, or provide access to a Federal database of geospatial information on community racial disparities or disparities in access to affordable housing.” While researchers, archivists, librarians, and watchdog groups work hard to create and preserve open data, there’s little guarantee that information under federal control will always survive changes to federal agencies.

via Endangered Data Week – April 17-21, 2017.

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