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Army Journal removal highlights need for digital deposit

According to Secrecy News, the Army has pulled the unclassified Military Intelligence Professional Bulletin from the open web:

The former MIPB website states that “The MIPB is now being hosted on the Intelligence Knowledge Network (IKN). (AKO account required).” AKO (Army Knowledge Online) accounts can only be obtained by military and contractor personnel.

The MIPB, which is unclassified, has long been available on the world wide web and has even been sold commercially. Back issues from 1995 to 2005 are available online from the FAS website, though no longer from the Army.

In addition to being sold commercially, this journal was also distributed through the Federal Depository Library Program until 2006, according to its entry in GPO’s Catalog of Government Publications at http://catalog.gpo.gov. After 2006, it went online only and access was through a PURL.

As of today, that PURL directed folks to the takedown page. Libraries that depended on the “official repository” of the Army for post-2005 issues were out of luck. If these digital copies had been instead deposited to depository libraries, access might have gone on unhindered. Unless the Army had asked GPO to have depositories destroy their electronic archives of MIPB. But even then, the fact that multiple digital copies of MIPB existed would have triggered GPO’s public process laid out in ID 72: Withdrawal of Federal Information Products from GPO’s Information Dissemination (ID) Programs. With that public process and the fact that prior issues were widely available, I think that the MPIB archive would have been safe. Instead, the Army as “The Official Repository” has made the online archives go away until FAS gets its FOIA request responded to.

Or maybe it will come sooner. The fact that MPIB had a PURL indicates that GPO may have been archiving it. But can they now post their copy of the archive? Do they need to consult the Army first? What if the Army says no?

Has anyone contacted GPO Help on this issue yet? What kind of a response have you gotten? Be sure to be kind to GPO as the decision on documents withdrawals rests with the agency. In this case, the Army. Don’t blame Ric Davis if the Army nixes an FDLP restoration of the 2005-2009 MIPB archive.

It’s cases like these where decisions are made with a flip of the switch without a public process that makes us wary of the Official Single Repository of Federal Publications, no matter who the federal agency is. Sunlight and good decision making require digital deposit outside the federal government.

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