Legislation that would require copies of congressionally mandated reports to be published online by GPO cleared a major hurdle when it unanimously passed the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform at a business meeting on Wednesday. The "Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act," introduced by Rep. Mike Quigley and joined by 12 co-sponsors, will now advance to the floor of the House of Representatives.
"Access to Congressionally Advances to the House Floor" by Daniel Schuman, Sunlight Foundation (June 23, 2011).
From an Announcement by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts:
A pilot project aimed at having public libraries enhance the public’s knowledge and use of the federal judiciary’s Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) service begins July 1, 2011.
Two libraries – the Library of Congress in the District of Columbia and the Law Library for San Bernadino, California – will kick off the pilot, but up to 50 additional public libraries may join them in future months.
PACER allows users to obtain case information from federal courts without having to visit the courthouse. The service allows an Internet user to request information about a particular case or party, and makes the data immediately available for printing or downloading at a cost of 8 cents per page.
In the pilot project, libraries will conduct at least one training class for the general public every three months, and offer training or refresher opportunities for library staff at least one a year. Those staff members, in turn, may assist library patrons in the use of PACER. For participating libraries, the first $50 of PACER use fees each quarter will be waived.
The pilot is a joint undertaking of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts, the Government Printing Office, and the American Association of Law Libraries.
GPO Releases 150th Anniversary History Book, Keeping America Informed
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 15, 2011 No. 11-35
MEDIA CONTACT: GARY SOMERSET 202.512.1957, 202.355.3997 cell email@example.com
GPO RELEASES 150TH ANNIVERSARY HISTORY BOOK, KEEPING AMERICA INFORMED
WASHINGTON-The U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) has released Keeping America Informed: The U.S. Government Printing Office: 150 Years of Service to the Nation as the agency observes its 150th anniversary. The first official GPO history to be released in 50 years, Keeping America Informed conveys GPO's history through text and photographs, many never published before. Created to bring an end to the costly and ineffective system of private sector printing originally used by the Federal Government, GPO opened its doors for business on March 4, 1861, the same day as President Lincoln's inauguration. Since then, through war and peace, boom and bust, GPO has produced countless historic publications for the Government, including the Emancipation Proclamation, as well as the vast range of documents that Americans have used for generations, such as passports, social security cards, census and tax forms, and others. The book focuses on GPO's role as the source of information by and about the Government for the past 150 years and the successive technologies used by GPO to carry out that role, from hand-set type to today's digital files. Keeping America Informed is available on GPO's Online Bookstore and GPO's Federal Digital System (FDsys) at www.fdsys.gov.
Link to Online Bookstore: http://bookstore.gpo.gov/collections/gpo-keeping-america-informed.jsp
According to a press release this morning (PDF), GPO management will soon be reducing their personnel by 15% (a reduction of 330 positions out of 2,200) including a reduction of 25% in management and supervisory levels. This is one more grim announcement on top of drastic budget cuts to govt information services and govt transparency efforts across the federal government. Stay tuned for more as we learn more about these reductions.
In response to overall Government cutbacks and projected reductions in appropriated funding, the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) informed employees today of its plan to send a request to Congress and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) for authority to offer buyouts and early outs to the agency’s 2,200 employees. GPO’s goal is to achieve a personnel reduction of 15% (or 330 positions), including a reduction in management and supervisory levels of 25%. Once GPO is given authority, employees can be offered lump-sum payments up to $25,000 as an incentive to voluntarily separate from the agency. The actual amount of the payout is based on a formula. GPO will use current funds to conduct this program, which needs to be concluded by the end of the first quarter of FY 2012 to achieve the needed savings for the coming year. In combination with a careful workforce restructuring plan, GPO management believes these reductions in personnel can be achieved without compromising the agency’s ability to carry out mission critical operations.
“GPO has restructured and reinvented itself numerous times throughout the last 150 years to carry out the critical mission of meeting the dissemination and information needs of the U.S. Congress and Federal agencies,” said Public Printer Bill Boarman. “These challenging economic times have no boundaries and are forcing many Federal agencies to seek ways to survive. GPO is open for business. We are an agency with a dedicated workforce that will continue to reengineer itself in the 21st century to serve as the digital information platform for the Federal Government.”
In May 2011, we received and posted 60 reports to GPO from librarians reporting documents that had seemingly fallen through the cracks of the cataloging process. The reports were originally sent to GPO between March and May 2011.
This month of the 60 reported documents posted by us, 8 (13%) have been cataloged and are in the Catalog of Government Publications (CGP) as of this writing. See these records for yourself by visiting lostdocs.freegovinfo.info/category/found/ and looking at the postings with May 2011 dates. We are appreciative of these new records.
From May, 50 items remain listed as "fugitive documents."
Two documents reported to GPO appeared to already have public CGP records and we classed them as "false positives." However, neither of these online documents have been assigned a PURL as of the date of this report, so we classed them also as "preservation needed."
Please remember that our listing of "fugitive documents" reports is only as complete as you make it, since GPO does not yet publish any statistics we're aware of on fugitive documents/document discovery.
If you like the concept of a public listing of fugitive documents reported to GPO, there are a number of easy ways to help us:
- If you report a fugitive document to GPO, send your e-mailed receipt to firstname.lastname@example.org. We welcome any item reported to GPO in the past month. It is best if you can send us the receipt the same day you get it from GPO. Some e-mail programs will support auto-forwarding. If so, please consider autoforwarding items where the subject contains "lostdocs submission."
- Visit the blog at lostdocs.freegovinfo.info and comment on the listed items. Comments can include -- Did your library receive the item? Did you find it in the CGP? Do you think the item is out of scope for the CGP? Did you report the item as well and so on.
- Post the blog link to your website or share it on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media.
- Subscribe to the blog feed at lostdocs.freegovinfo.info/feed/
or better yet incorporate the feed into your website or blog.
Ric Davis, former acting Superintendent of Documents of the Govt Printing Office -- and FGI guest blogger :-) -- has just been named Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of GPO (PDF). Congratulations to Mr. Davis. I'm sure his prior work with the FDLP, FDsys, and GPO Library Services and Content Management (LSCM) will put him in good stead to do the ongoing technological work needed at the GPO.
Public Printer at House Oversight Comm: "GPO – Issues and Challenges: How Will GPO Transition to the Future?"Submitted by jrjacobs on Fri, 2011-05-13 21:17.
On Weds May 11, 2011, Public Printer Bill Boarman and others submitted written testimony to a hearing of the Committee on House Administration Subcommittee on Oversight (PDF). the hearing was titled "GPO – Issues and Challenges: How Will GPO Transition to the Future?" Here's the GPO press release about the Public Printer's comments (anyone else wish GPO put out their press releases in xhtml rather than pdf?! It's hard to find them after the fact! but I digress). (Unembeddable) Video of the hearing is also available.
- William J. Boarman, Public Printer of the United States, Government Printing Office
- James Hamilton Group Director, InfoTrends
- Eric D. Belcher, President and Chief Executive Officer, InnerWorkings, Inc.
- Eric Petersen, Specialist in American National Government, Congressional Research Service
Full disclosure: I talked last week with Reynold Schweikhardt, Director of Technology Policy for the Committee on House Administration -- Mr Schweickhardt was organizing the hearing -- in preparation for the hearing and to discuss with him some of the issues surrounding GPO, the FDLP and access to govt information in the 21st century.
I shared with him a few pieces that my FGI colleagues and I had written over the last several years to help inform the hearing and future discussions about the GPO and govt information in general. Among them are:
- "GPO must not go" argues for reasons why GPO is important to the govt info ecosystem.
- Public Printer's Letter to President Obama Regarding Open Government argues for a continued need in a distributed model to assure long term access and preservation.
- iConference presentation on the future of govt information
- Critical GPO systems and the FDLP cloud
- Several link rot articles
- Government Information in the Digital Age: The Once and Future Federal Depository Library Program. James A. Jacobs, James R. Jacobs and Shinjoung Yeo. Journal of Academic Librarianship, Volume 31, Issue 3, May 2005, Pages 198-208. lays out roles for GPO, fed agencies, libraries and others in assuring long term access to and preservation of govt information.
"Printing" seems to be a big issue these days -- witness the recently introduced bills H.R. 1626: Prevent the Reckless, Irresponsible, Needless Typography (PRINT) Act of 2011 and S 674: Congressional Record Printing Savings Act of 2011 -- and printing was discussed at the hearing. Yes, "printing" is (mostly) no longer necessary (and mostly no longer done) -- though it remains a far better mode of access for many publications (Statistical Abstract is a case in point ) -- but the role of "producing standard, preservable, authentic information output" still exists and remains critical to an informed citizenry. Drastically defunding GPO because of no need for printing would be throwing out the baby (standard preservable authentic information production) with the bathwater (printing press).
I stressed in our dialog that GPO's role hasn't changed, just the means. It's far cheaper to fund one agency that partners with libraries and provides valuable services to other agencies than to defund that agency, lose the distribution/service/access/preservation that libraries do largely w/o federal dollars, and face the same information budget issues agency by agency -- and the increasing expenditure requests at every agency. Every congressional district has a stake in maintaining funding for gpo/fdlp and should be supportive of the public service that libraries provide to their constituents.
It's also important to note GPO's critical role in cataloging government information regardless of format or FDLP status and the role PURLs play in reducing link rot. Even if printing vanished tomorrow, there is a real need for the active management of description of federal resources, and this is something that only a couple of agencies other than GPO do -- OSTI is one that comes to mind.
In the end, I think a strong argument can be made that 1) GPO is a vital piece of the govt information ecosystem; and 2) GPO should be a focal point within govt for distributing govt information out to the public and to libraries; 3) the issues of digital preservation are too large for GPO to do alone and libraries, as they have done historically, can and should play an active role in access to and preservation of govt information. Libraries and librarians hopefully will continue to have a key role to play in govt information and transparency processes.
That is all.
Informative, but non-essential websites are likely candidates for being shut down.
White House says critical websites won't be affected by shutdown, By William Matthews, Next Gov (04/07/2011).
In the event of a government shutdown, federal websites "would remain operational" if they are deemed "necessary to avoid significant damage to the execution of authorized or accepted activities," a White House official told Nextgov in an email message late Wednesday.
...For the duration of a shutdown, agency-operated websites that are not judged to be critical "would not remain active," the official said. That doesn't mean they will necessarily vanish from the Internet. Rather, if they remain available, the information on them might not be up to date, and transactions submitted to agencies through the sites might not be processed until the shutdown ends...
Sites to be closed include the International Trade Administration, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Economics and Statistics Administration, the and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
...Informative, but non-essential websites, such as USASpending.gov, ITDashboard.gov and Data.gov are likely candidates for being shut down...
...Agencies are expected to post notices on their Web home pages about which online features will work and which won't during the shutdown.
Declan McCullagh at CNET reports that many federal Web sites will likely go offline if the government shuts down Friday night. "A 16-page memo (PDF) to federal agencies says their Web sites may stay online only in a small number of situations, including tax collection and handling 'exempted' activities such as payments and other functions that are paid for by previous annual budgets."
So how will permanent public access be maintained in the event of a shutdown? Will the standard notice include information on how to find your local federal depository library? The public won't even be able to find a list of depository libraries on the FDLP desktop (fdlp.gov) but will have to go to Documents Data Miner hosted by the library at Wichita State University. The Washington Post has a list of govt agency shutdown plan details -- including GPO -- but only states, "If the government were to shut down, a [GPO] skeleton staff is expected to stay on to print copies of the Congressional Record and other White House documents." It's unclear whether or not fdlp.gov, fdsys.gov or other GPO sites will remain online in the event of a shutdown.
"The mere benefit of continued access by the public to information about the agency's activities would not warrant the retention of personnel or the obligation of funds to maintain, or update, the agency's Web site" during a shutdown, says the memo, prepared by the White House's Office of Management and Budget.
It adds: "If an agency's Web site is shut down, users should be directed to a standard notice that the Web site is unavailable during the period of government shutdown." The IRS's Web site would likely stay online, the memo says, because tax collection is an exempted activity, "but the entire Treasury Department Web site would not."
Press Release from GPO:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 5, 2011
GSA TURNS TO GPO'S PARTNERSHIP WITH GOOGLE TO OFFER FREE GOVERNMENT PUBLICATIONS ONLINE
WASHINGTON-The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) is working with the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) and GPO's relationship with the Google Book Partner Program to make popular Government publications available for free electronic download through Google. The program is making available 100 consumer-related Federal Government publications distributed through GSA's Federal Citizen Information Center (FCIC) on Google Books. The public can view and download PDF copies of these publications on desktops, laptops, and various e-readers. The FCIC plans to add more consumer publications to the program. The public can also order hard copies of the publications on Google Books and through the GPO's Online Bookstore. The FCIC will coordinate delivery through GPO's Public Documents Distribution Center in Pueblo, Colorado.
"GPO and GSA have been partners in distributing federal government publications to the American people for 40 years," said GPO's Business Products & Services Managing Director Herb Jackson. "GPO looks forward to expanding that partnership with Google in providing the public with free electronic access to popular consumer publications."