The Sunlight Foundation is compiling a list of "transparency advocates" (CSOs, groups, networks, government projects) from all around the world. They are making their findings public as a spreadsheet available as a google doc ( https://docs.google.com/a/sunlightfoundation.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Ao... ). In addition to name and URL, the list includes focus areas and social media links and much more.
So far they have a list of over 500 opengov groups across the globe. If you don't see your transparency organization in the list, submit information about it to Sunlight Foundation here: http://snlg.ht/19tUoCS
- International Transparency Organizations, Sunlight Foundation.
The House Assembly today passed the California Taxpayer Access to Publicly Funded Research Act (AB 609). The act is now set to be heard in the Senate later this summer. If AB 609 becomes law, it will unlock access to the results of more than $200 million in annual, state-funded scientific research.
- California Open Access Legislation Clears Latest Hurdle, By David Knutson, PLOS blog (May 30, 2013)
Big Hat Tip to Gary at InfoDocket where you can see more links.
House Administration Rejects NAPA Recommendation to Charge Public for Access to Legislative DocumentsSubmitted by jajacobs on Wed, 2013-05-22 08:11.
In a letter to the Acting Public Printer of the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) the House Committee on Administration has rejected a recent recommendation by the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) to charge the public for access to GPO’s congressional documents. The response is to the NAPA report Rebooting the Government Printing Office: Keeping America Informed, which recommended that GPO consider charging for access to its Federal Digital System (FDsys).
- House Administration Rejects NAPA Recommendation to Charge Public for Access to Legislative Documents, Committee on House Administration (May 22, 2013).
- Letter to Vance-Cooks, [PDF] Chairman Candice Miller (R-Mich.), Ranking Member Robert Brady (D-Pa) (May 21, 2013)
[Editor's note 5/23/13: Several people have contacted FGI and asked for clarification. The title of our post, which we borrowed from Steven Aftergood, is a little misleading. The decision to suspend access to NASA technical reports was purely the decision of NASA administrators. GPO's news item makes it clear that GPO is only announcing that some of the purls to NASA technical reports in the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP) "may not link to the documents that the catalog record describes."]
Steven Aftergood reports that The Government Printing Office is blocking public access to some previously released records of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. PURLs may not link to the documents that the catalog record describes.
- GPO Suspends Public Access to Some NASA Records, by Steven Aftergood, Secrecy News (May 16, 2013).
The Government Printing Office is blocking public access to some previously released records of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, while the records are reviewed to see if they contain export-controlled information. The move follows the controversial disabling and partial restoration of the NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS) (NASA Technical Report Database Partly Back Online, Secrecy News, May 9.)
- NASA Technical Reports Server Has Limited Content Availability Until Further Notice, FDLP (May 16, 2013).
Affected classes are:
NAS 1.15: 0830-D
NAS 1.26: 0830-H-14
NAS 1.2/2-2: 0830-H-26
NAS 1.60: 0830-H-15
See also our earlier comment on this issue.
Happening now: Webcast on Public Access to Federally-Supported Research and Development Data and PublicationsSubmitted by jrjacobs on Tue, 2013-05-14 10:10.
The webcast for public comments on Public Access to Federally Supported R&D is happening today and tomorrow (14 – 15 May 2013), starting at 9:00 a.m EST. Here's the agenda and already-submitted written statements. In a few days, the video archives from the webcast will also be available (same URL), and eventually the full transcript of the meeting will also be found on the same page. Check it out. It's heartening to hear so many scholars, academics, policy wonks etc coming out in support of open access to scientific information and data.
This message is just a reminder that the Public Comment meeting on Public Access to Federally Supported R&D: Publications will occur tomorrow and Wednesday (14 – 15 May 2013), starting at 9:00 a.m. The agenda is attached.
The link to the webcast is on the front page of the agenda, but here it is again: http://sites.nationalacademies.org/DBASSE/DBASSE_083052
If you are interested, the written statements that were received as part of the registration process can also be downloaded from a link on that page. In a few days, the video archives from the webcast will also be available (same URL), and eventually the full transcript of the meeting will also be found on the same page.
We look forward to seeing all of you who will attend in person, and hope that those who watch by webcast find it a useful meeting.
Meredith A Lane, PhD
Director, Board on Environmental Change and Society
Project Director, Committee on Population
Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education
National Research Council
Keck Center, 500 Fifth St NW, Washington, DC 20001
Steven Aftergood reports that some reports have been restored to the NASA Technical Reports Server:
- NASA Technical Report Database Partly Back Online by Steven Aftergood, Secrecy News (May 9, 2013).
...many of the NTRS records have been restored, including open literature publications, magazine articles, and other documents that were already in the public domain in any case. But hundreds of thousands of others still await a formal export control review to certify them for public release.
The White House has issued a new Executive Order on open data:
- Making Open and Machine Readable the New Default for Government Information. EXECUTIVE ORDER, May 09, 2013.
To promote continued job growth, Government efficiency, and the social good that can be gained from opening Government data to the public, the default state of new and modernized Government information resources shall be open and machine readable. Government information shall be managed as an asset throughout its life cycle to promote interoperability and openness, and, wherever possible and legally permissible, to ensure that data are released to the public in ways that make the data easy to find, accessible, and usable. In making this the new default state, executive departments and agencies (agencies) shall ensure that they safeguard individual privacy, confidentiality, and national security. [emphasis added]
- Open Data Policy-Managing Information as an Asset. Memorandum For The Heads Of Executive Departments And Agencies M-13-13, Office of Management and Budget (May 9, 2013). [pdf. 12 pages]
- Landmark Steps to Liberate Open Data. by Todd Park and Steve VanRoekel White House Blog (May 09, 2013)
John Wonderlich at the Sunlight Foundation has an excellent analysis and commentary:
- Open Data Executive Order Shows Path Forward, by John Wonderlich, Sunlight Foundation Blog (May 9, 2013).
[T]he new policies take on one of the most important, trickiest questions that these policies face -- how can we reset the default to openness when there is so much data? How can we take on managing and releasing all the government's data, or as much as possible, without negotiating over every dataset the government has?
How can the public (or policymakers) request what they don't know exists? How can CIOs manage what they haven't surveyed?
...Today's Executive Order demonstrates a new approach to open data, moving beyond rhetoric and aspiration, requiring agencies to publicly report on what data can be made public, building a new backbone for federal open data policy, and setting an example for other governments to follow. [emphasis added]
- New Open Data Memorandum almost defines open data, misses mark with open licenses. by Joshua Tauberer (May 9th, 2013).
- President Obama’s New E.O.: Open Data, Not Government Transparency by Jim Harper, Cato Institute (May 9, 2013).
"The Supreme Court on Monday said states are free to allow public records access only to their own citizens, delivering a blow to freedom of information advocates who had challenged a Virginia law.... Various other states, including Tennessee, Arkansas and Delaware, have similar laws, although some do not enforce them."
- Justices say states can limit access to public records, By Lawrence Hurley, Reuters (April 29, 2013).
In the ruling, Justice Samuel Alito said the provision of the Constitution in question, known as the "privileges and immunities clause," does not extend a sweeping right to all the information made available via freedom of information laws.
Daniel Schuman, Policy Counsel and Director, Advisory Committee on Transparency of the Sunlight Foundation, writes that Reps. Mike Quigley and Leonard Lance are leading the charge in the House of Representatives to make CRS Reports publicly accessible. They've introduced (or RE-introduced) H.Res.110 - Congressional Research Service Electronic Accessibility Resolution of 2013. Hopefully this will be the year that Congress decides to share.
Former Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said that "everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts." In 1914, an uncharacteristically foresighted Congress spent $25,000 to establish a fact-finding arm whose mission was to gather "data ... bearing upon legislation, and to render such data serviceable to Congress." A century later, the Congressional Research Service generates hundreds of analytical non-partisan reports on legislative issues each year.
CRS reports often inform public debate. A recent analysis, which found no correlation between economic growth and cutting tax rates for the wealthy, set off a re-appraisal of long-held orthodoxy about tax policy. A 2006 analysis questioning the legal rationale supporting the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping policy caused many to look at the issue with fresh eyes. CRS analyses are routinely cited in news reports, by the courts, in congressional debate, and by government watchdogs.
However, unlike its sister agencies that investigate federal spending and analyze the budgetary effects of legislation, CRS does not release its reports to the public on a regular basis. This was not always so, and even now CRS routinely shares its reports with officials in the executive and judicial branches and with the press upon request. Congressional offices also act to disseminate the reports, publishing some on their websites, frequently sending others to constituents in response to requests, and giving them to reporters (often to help push a political narrative.)
But for a member of the public, it's difficult to access reports generated by the 600-person $100 million-a-year agency in any comprehensive way. Efforts by non-profit organizations to gather and re-publish the reports online have met with limited success. The private sector has stepped in, selling access to the reports at $20 a pop, but the premium accentuates the gap between the elites and everyone else.
[UPDATE 4/2/13: We've had some questions about the meaning of "ALL." Please read the comment thread for clarification. We don't mean "records" (which fall under FOIA) and we don't mean classified information. We mean public domain documents, publications, reports, data, statistics and the like. JRJ]
A convergence of several things -- the White House's new policy on Open Access to federally funded scientific information, the NAPA Report on the GPO, the CASSANDRA Letter to the Public Printer, and Sunshine Week among them -- has led us to create a petition on the White House's We the People petition site. If you believe in free permanent public access to authentic government information, we hope you'll sign the petition and forward on to all your friends and social networks to help us reach our goal of 100,000 signatures by April 11, 2013! Thanks in advance!!
WE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO:
Require free online permanent public access to ALL federal government information and publications.
1. Assure that GPO has the funds to continue to maintain and develop the Federal Digital System (FDsys).
2. Raise ALL Congressional, Executive & Judicial branch information, publications & data to the level of federally funded scientific information & publish ALL government information as "Open Access."
3. Mandate the free permanent public access to other Federal information currently maintained in fee-based databases - including the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER), the National Technical Reports Library (NTRL), & USA Trade Online.
4. Establish an interagency, govt-wide strategy to manage the entire lifecycle of digital government information w/ FDLP Libraries - publication, access, usability, bulk download, long-term preservation, standards & metadata.
The National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) completed an operational review of the Government Printing Office (GPO) mandated under the 2012 Consolidated Appropriations Act (Public Law 112-74). The NAPA report, “Rebooting the Government Printing Office: Keeping America Informed in the Digital Age,” acknowledged the obligation Congress has to establish an interagency government-wide strategy to manage the lifecycle of digital government information. The report also acknowledged the vital role GPO plays in providing free permanent public access to authentic government information in tangible formats through its Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) and to authentic government information in electronic formats via GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDSys).
However, Recommendation 4 states: “GPO and Congress should explore alternative funding models for the Federal Digital System in order to ensure a stable and sufficient funding source.” Among the models recommended are “…reimbursement for services; fees for end users; dedicated appropriations; and/or an automatic charge to agencies, depending on size, to encourage agencies to take advantage of GPO’s existing infrastructure and cover the cost of the services being provided by GPO.”
Just as the Obama Administration supports the public’s right to “free access over the Internet to scientific journal articles arising from taxpayer-funded research,” the Administration must support the creation of “stable and sufficient funding” to ensure free permanent public access to authentic government information arising from the work of taxpayer-funded Executive, Congressional, and Judicial Branch agencies.
- NAPA report, “Rebooting the Government Printing Office: Keeping America Informed in the Digital Age.”
- CASSANDRA Letter to US Public Printer in response to the NAPA Report.
- Expanding Public Access to the Results of Federally Funded Research. John P. Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).
- White House response to "We The People" petition "Increasing Public Access to the Results of Scientific Research"
- Government Accountability Office (GAO), Information Management: National Technical Information Service's Dissemination of Technical Reports Needs Congressional Attention. GAO-13-99, November 19, 2012. Context on the GAO report from FGI.
- GPO's Federal Digital System (FDsys): http://fdsys.gov
- PACER: http://www.pacer.gov
- National Technical Reports Library (NTRL): http://ntrl.ntis.gov
- USAtrade: https://www.usatradeonline.gov
- Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP). http://fdlp.gov