Our mission

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.

Government Agencies & Elected Officials at State Agency Databases Project

This week’s State Agency Databases Project subject highlight is Government Agencies & Elected Officials, featuring 42 states that project volunteers know to have publicly searchable databases in this subject area. Three examples from this compilation are:

ALABAMA

Local Alabama Government Search – Search for local officials by zip code or place name.

 

LOUISIANA

Louisiana Boards and Commissions Database – This database is searchable by the name of the commission, board or by name of an individual member. It includes names of all the members on the board or commission, a contact address and phone number, appointed date (if available), and expiration date of term (if available).

 

TENNESSEE

Tennessee State phone directory – Search for state employees or state offices.

 

For more, see http://godort.libguides.com/govdirdbs. If you know of state agency produced databases in this area, either comment here or use the “Email me” link on the guide to report a database, which will be forwarded to the appropriate project volunteer.

Education at State Agency Databases Project

This week’s State Agency Databases Project subject highlight is Education, featuring 43 states that project volunteers know to have publicly searchable databases in this subject area. Three examples from this compilation are:

ALASKA

Teacher Certification Database – Searchable by teacher first or last name, this database will provide a list of that teacher’s current certifications along with expiration dates. This database does not list expired certifications or any personal data.

 

MISSOURI

Missouri School Directory – View public school information by county, district name, state house district, or state senate district. Information includes contact numbers for administrators and each school in the district, and the number of schools, certified staff, and enrolled students. Assessed valuation and tax levy amounts are also available.

 

TEXAS

Degree Program Search – From the website, “This tool allows a user to search by one field or a combination of fields to find a degree program(s) offered at one or more public community, technical, or state college, public university, health-related institution, Independent/Private(ICUT) Institution, For Profit Colleges & Universities Authorized by Certificate, or Other Institutions Authorized by Certificate. ”

For more, see http://godort.libguides.com/educationdbs. If you know of state agency produced databases in this area, either comment here or use the “Email me” link on the guide to report a database, which will be forwarded to the appropriate project volunteer.

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.

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