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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.

Save Government Information!

Library Journal published our opinion piece in its “Peer to Peer Review” section today:

Save Government Information! by James A. Jacobs and James R. Jacobs. Library Journal Peer to Peer Review (March 15, 2018).

In it, we make the case that the impending Title 44 bill does not go far enough to building a truly collaborative, 21st century FDLP.

Hot off the presses. Read AtG special issue: “Ensuring Access to Government Information”

Thanks to Shari Laster and Lynda Kellam (our fearless editors!) we’ve now got all of the articles (or soon to be all) conveniently posted to the Open Science Framework (OSF) wiki. So please enjoy this special issue of Against the Grain (v29 #6 December 2017/January 2018). These are all pre-prints for which the authors have permission to post to their institutions’ digital repositories.

This table of contents links to preprints from “Ensuring Access to Government Information,” a special issue of Against the Grain (v29 #6 December 2017/January 2018). The issue was guest edited by Lynda Kellam and Shari Laster.

via OSF | Against the Grain special issue: “Ensuring Access to Government Information” Wiki.

Republicans Seek to Force a Census Undercount

We’ve been hearing about problems with the 2020 census for quite some time. For those interested, the Census Project, an organization that “supports a fair and accurate 2020 Census and comprehensive American Community Survey,” has a ton of good information. This latest article by DCReport “Republicans Seek to Force a Census Undercount” has a goodly number of links all in one place to what is happening with the census. And they recommend calling or writing Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to tell him we want a census that counts everyone. Ross’ contact info is:


U.S. Department of Commerce

1401 Constitution Ave. NW

Washington, D.C. 20230

Trump and the Republicans have sabotaged how ready our country is for the 2020 U.S. Census. They want to intimidate undocumented immigrants and other people who aren’t citizens from participating in the once-a-decade count that is used to assign seats in the House of Representatives and to determine who gets more than $675 billion in federal funds each year.

Trump’s Justice Department has proposed asking about citizenship on the census, a question that hasn’t been asked on the census in seven decades. Democrats fear this will lead to immigrants who are afraid of deportation not being counted and Democratic states like California losing representatives.

“It’s pretty obvious to me that the Trump administration intends to politicize this process,” said Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin. “Everything I see here suggests to me that they don’t really want a good count in states like ours.”

via Republicans Seek to Force a Census Undercount – DCReport.org.

2/22 draft Title 44 “reform” bill now available. Help us dig through it.

We got our hands on a copy of the 2/22 draft “GPO Reform Act of 2018.” So now we can read GPO’s comments on the draft alongside the actual draft. Please help us dig through and let us know where the potential roadblocks and poison pills are at. Our general working assumption is that chapter 5, the FDLP chapter, includes *some* good new pieces but largely sets in legislation how the FDLP has worked for the last 20 years. And chapters 1 and 3, the GPO “reform” chapters, contain a bunch of pieces that will restrict and/or decrease GPO’s budgets and operations to the point that it will negatively effect GPO’s ability to do any of the good items in chapter 5. Of course, we’re willing to be wrong on that assumption (but don’t think we are). The only question remaining to our minds is whether the main lobbying participants — ALA Washington Office, ARL, and AALL — are willing to support the bill (which will go a long way toward getting it over the finish line) *despite* gutting GPO. Let us know your thoughts.

GPO just released its comments on the latest draft Title 44 “reform” bill dated February 22, 2018 (here’s a PDF copy saved to FGI’s servers for posterity).

via GPO posts comments to 2/22 draft Title 44 “reform” bill. Still replete w poison pills – Free Government Information (FGI).

The EPA’s Website after a year of climate change censorship

Here’s a good article from Time Magazine“Here’s What the EPA’s Website Looks Like After a Year of Climate Change Censorship” — which accurately reports how the Trump Administration and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt have changed, skewed or deleted government information from the EPA Website for crass political purposes. For more in-depth analysis of the issue of information scrubbing from federal websites, one should look to the work of the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative (EDGI) and especially their reports: “Changing the Digital Climate” and “The EPA Under Siege”.

According to former government officials and EPA staffers, the level of scrutiny is without precedent. In the hands of an administration that has eschewed facts for their alternative cousins, the agency’s site is increasingly unmoored from its scientific core.

“In my experience, new administrations might come in and change the appearance of an agency website or the way they present information, but this is an unprecedented attempt to delete or bury credible scientific information they find politically inconvenient,” Heather Zichal, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center, and previously President Barack Obama’s top White House adviser on energy and climate change, tells TIME.

The EPA’s site is now riddled with missing links, redirecting pages and buried information. Over the past year, terms like “fossil fuels”, “greenhouse gases” and “global warming” have been excised. Even the term “science” is no longer safe.

Christine Todd Whitman, the EPA Administrator under George W. Bush, says the overhaul is “to such an extreme degree that [it] undermines the credibility of the site”…

Of the more than 25,000 web pages tracked by the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative (EDGI) since Trump’s election, they say the EPA’s have been hit hardest. One section, which provided local communities with resources for combating climate change, disappeared for months only to resurface heavily redacted, including just 175 of its 380 pages.

via The EPA’s Website After a Year of Climate Change Censorship | Time.