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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.

National Weather Service under risk of privatization. John Oliver has more

Talking about the weather is supposed to be the one safe topic that people from all stripes can talk about. But John Oliver ruins that — in an extremely funny and informative way of course! He explains the importance of the National Weather Service (NWS), which is a sub-agency of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The NWS makes all of its weather forecasts and climate data openly available for free and also shares data and modeling with other weather services around the world through its membership in the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). One could argue that the National Weather Service is among the most critical government services and a global public good.

Over the last 15-20 years however, there has been a concerted push by private companies to get into the weather game. Whereas companies like AccuWeather and the Weather Channel would in the past use NWS data and add value to it, today, according to Andrew Blum — who wrote the recently published book “The Weather Machine: A Journey Inside the Forecast”
“…you’ve got companies running their own models, deploying their own observing systems,” and as Oliver points out, acting as gatekeepers to weather data. Check out Blum’s interview on a recent PBS Newshour for more context and by all means, watch Oliver’s piece below.

The most recent move at privatization of the weather is when the Trump administration named Barry Myers, the ex-CEO of AccuWeather, for the dual post of NOAA Administrator and Under Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere, Department of Commerce and include oversight of the National Weather Service. His nomination was submitted in October, 2017 and renewed in January, 2018 and again in 2019. His nomination was stalled for quite a while, but in April of this year, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee voted 14-12 along party lines to move Myers’ nomination forward.

Myers’ nomination is extremely problematic for 2 reasons: 1) He has gone on the record in support of privatizing the weather service — in 2005, he and his brother gave money to then-Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) who “introduced legislation aimed at curtailing government competition with private weather services”; and 2) AccuWeather this year agreed to pay a substantial fine for “sexual harassment and a hostile work environment” while Myers was AccuWeather’s chief executive. Is this really the person we want providing oversight to the National Weather Service and NOAA as a whole?!


One giant leap for docs-kind: OSTI adds search for extracted figures and tables.

OSTI figures and tables searchI’ve always appreciated the Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) for the way they manage and give access to .gov scientific information – and for the fact that they’ve long shared their metadata freely and allowed libraries to download their MARC records in bulk. Now they’ve added *another* feature to their search for which I’ve long wished; OSTI has added a figure and table search to their engine! Now if we could only get GPO to add this feature to GOVINFO. Imagine having a zanran-style search for tabular data and images in all govt documents?!

Thanks again OSTI!

OSTI.GOV has introduced a search for figure and table images included in DOE’s collection of scientific and technical information.  This innovative new feature allows users to search for and retrieve documents as usual, but the associated images are also retrieved, and can be viewed with the corresponding document or in a separate tab for images only. Currently, over 5,000 documents have been mined for images, resulting in over 41,000 available for searching.

To populate and power this image search, relevant figures and tables are extracted from full-text documents using modified open-source software, and then the images and associated metadata are carefully curated in-house to make them findable at OSTI.GOV.  Emphasis has been placed on extracting visual materials from some of the newest full-text records in OSTI.GOV, specifically journal articles accepted manuscripts that have recently been released from embargo. 

via Search and Display Extracted Figures and Tables in OSTI.GOV.

NARA releases Digital Preservation Framework for public comment

Photograph of World’s First Computer, the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator. National Archives Identifier 594262 The Archivist of the US (AOTUS) released NARA’s plan for a Digital Preservation Framework consisting of a “Risk and Prioritization Matrix” and 15 File Format Preservation Action Plans. NARA is asking that the public submit comments on NARA’s GitHub site through November 1, 2019.

In particular, we are hoping to get feedback on the following topics:

  • What revisions can you suggest to the proposed processing and preservation actions for the formats?
  • Are the Essential Characteristics for each record type comprehensive enough for digital preservation?
  • Are the proposed preservation actions for the formats technically appropriate?
  • Are there appropriate tools for processing and preservation of specific formats that we do not have listed?
  • What can you suggest in terms of appropriate public access versions of the formats?
  • Are there other formats we haven’t identified that need plans?

You can use the issues feature in Github to leave a comment or question or start a discussion. Read more about how to contribute here. So, go ahead, start digging in to your favorite file format and tell NARA your thoughts.

Today NARA is releasing the entirety of our digital preservation framework for public comment. This digital preservation framework consists of our approach to determining risks faced by electronic files, and our plans for preserving different types of file formats. The public is encouraged to join the discussion, September 16 through November 1, 2019, on GitHub.

via Digital Preservation Framework Released for Public Comment – AOTUS.

EPA argues its blog isn’t public information, won’t change post

Possibly lost in the jaw-dropping WTF! statement where the EPA argued its blog isn’t public information is the fact that the EPA, in a PUBLIC BLOG POST ON THE INTERNET WITHIN THE EPA.GOV DOMAIN(!), had the gall to celebrate National Pollinators Week after it expanded the use of the pesticide sulfoxaflor that is considered “highly toxic” to bees. The Doublespeak severely pains this former beekeeper.

“The EPA Blog is an example of information that would not be considered disseminated by the EPA to the public,” Kevin Kirby of the EPA wrote in response to Burd.

Document(s) of the day: FDA judgements 1908 – 1966. Thanks Natl Library of Medicine!

Today’s document(s) of the day is via the always interesting Scout Report. It’s a digitized collection of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) judgments from NIH/NLM (National Institutes of Health/National Library of Medicine) from 1980 – 1966. A finding aid to the collection is available. “The evidence files are controlled by the various Sample, S., or IS evidence file numbers found in the Notices’s Numbers metadata field and are organized roughly by date.

This is a goldmine of historic FDA documents. The only gripe I have is that when I went to put the url into the wayback machine to preserve all the documents, I got an error message saying that the page was not available to be archived because access had been forbidden. Here’s a treasure trove of fugitive government documents not able to be collected or preserved by the FDLP. So, if you’re listening/reading NLM, please allow your digitized collections to be crawled by the Internet Archive and by libraries collecting digital government documents. Thanks!

We’ve all heard by word of mouth about products that may contain suspect ingredients, but this collection of U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) judgments from NIH/NLM (National Institutes of Health/National Library of Medicine) has the full story. The collection contains summaries of the outcomes of federal court cases against manufacturers and their products that were prosecuted under the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act for adulteration, misbranding, or faulty labeling. The notices are arranged into four categories with various date ranges: Foods and Drugs, 1908-1943; Drugs and Devices, 1940-1963; Cosmetics, 1940-1964; Foods, 1940-1966. When first approaching the collection, users may want to browse by the many provided categories such as: Defendants, Product Keywords, and Issue Dates. Each entry includes the record’s case number, collection, date issued, product keywords, and more. A detailed finding aid for the collection is also available. [DS]

via Internet Scout.

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