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.

Mapping immigrant impact on local communities. Using data to tell impactful stories

Here’s an interesting project called “Map the impact” from New American Economy, a “bipartisan research and advocacy organization fighting for smart federal, state, and local immigration policies.” It connects govt data with stories to frame immigration in a more positive light. While the site doesn’t allow direct download of data, they do have a methodology page which points to the datasets used for the site — like American Community Survey, Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS), Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), and Census of State and Local Government. Check it out.

New Stanford Cyber Policy Center report details security concerns with 2020 election

Stanford University’s Cyber Policy Center, in conjunction with the #StanfordCyberPolicy event held last month, has published a new white paper on the security of US elections entitled “Securing American Elections: Prescriptions for Enhancing the Integrity and Independence of the 2020 U.S. Presidential Elections and Beyond.” Summary: it’s not good.

[HT to Bruce Schneier and his always fascinating/disturbing Crypto-Gram Newsletter. We highly recommend subscribing to the newsletter!]

PEGI submits comments for phase III of the draft Federal Data Strategy, says preservation is key

Last year, the Preservation of Electronic Government Information (PEGI) Project — a collaborative effort of which I’m a part — commented on phase I of the draft Federal Data Strategy. This time around, there was a request for comments on phase III, the draft action plan for the Federal Data Strategy and again PEGI submitted comments (grab the PDF here). They were very specific about what comments they were looking for this time around:

In March 2018, President Trump launched the President’s Management Agenda (PMA). It lays out a long-term vision for modernizing the Federal Government in key areas that will improve the ability of agencies to deliver mission outcomes, provide excellent service, and effectively steward taxpayer dollars on behalf of the American people. The PMA established a Cross-Agency Priority (CAP) goal of Leveraging Data as a Strategic Asset with an intended purpose of guiding development of a comprehensive long-term Federal Data Strategy (hereinafter “Strategy”) to grow the economy, increase the effectiveness of the Federal Government, facilitate oversight, and promote transparency (https://www.performance.gov/CAP/CAP_goal_2.html). This notice seeks comment on a draft action plan for Federal agencies to adopt in order to achieve the objectives of this CAP goal. This is the third Federal Register Notice seeking public comment related to the Federal Data Strategy. The previous two notices sought comments on the Strategy’s draft principles and draft practices, respectively.

Please provide comment on the scope and content of the 2019-2020 Federal Data Strategy Action Plan.

  • Identify any additional fundamental actions to implement the Federal Data Strategy that are not included in this draft Year-1 Action Plan and explain why.
  • Identify any additional actions that would align with or complement ongoing Federal data initiatives or the implementation of new legislation, such as the Foundations for Evidence-based Policy Making Act and explain why.
  • Identify any actions in this draft Year-1 Action Plan that should be omitted and explain why.
  • For each action, provide any edits and additional detail to ensure that they accurately and effectively describe needed activities, responsible entities, metrics for assessing progress, and timelines for completion.
  • For each action, provide information about the implementation resources necessary to ensure success of these Action Steps.

PEGI focused (of course!) on the importance of data preservation and robust metadata, proposing “approaches that will maximize resource use by assuring that the implementation of the Federal Data Strategy will include preservation as a key component.” Read our comments in their entirety and also check out all of the submitted comments on regulations.gov.

USDA climate science research quashed US science leadership destroyed

Last night, Rachel Maddow did her opening piece on the history of scientific excellence and global leadership by the USDA its decimation at the hands of the Trump administration and USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue – and in particular the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the principal in-house research agency of the USDA. She highlighted this Politico story:

Agriculture Department buries studies showing dangers of climate change The Trump administration has stopped promoting government-funded research into how higher temperatures can damage crops and pose health risks. By Helena Bottemiller Evich. 06/23/2019.

The Trump administration has refused to publicize dozens of government-funded studies that carry warnings about the effects of climate change, defying a longstanding practice of touting such findings by the Agriculture Department’s acclaimed in-house scientists.

Beyond the willful obfuscation and burying of important research findings about climate change, Maddow also highlighted a Washington Post article published yesterday that noted that USDA scientists were also recently given a choice: move to Kansas City by July 15 or be fired – somehow it sounds even worse when using the administration’s term: “be separated by adverse action procedures.” This forced move could cause a massive brain drain and decimate the scientific staff at the ARS, the Economic Research Service, and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (Maddow stated that perhaps 90% of scientists would leave the USDA!).

Talk about information loss!

Judiciary Creates Public User Group for PACER

Judiciary Creates Public User Group for PACER, Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (June 26, 2019).

The federal Judiciary has created and is seeking members for a public user group to provide advice and feedback on ways to improve its electronic public access services. The Electronic Public Access (EPA) Public User Group membership will be selected from interested applicants who represent the legal sector, media, academia, government agencies, the public, and other entities that use the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system to access federal court records. The group will allow for the exchange of information about issues experienced by users, and it will recommend ideas for expanding and improving services….

Interested parties can find additional information and apply for membership. Applications are due by July 26, 2019….

The EPA User Group will hold its first meeting later this year. Meeting agendas, minutes, and other relevant information will be available online at https://www.uscourts.gov/court-records/electronic-public-access-public-user-group.

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