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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.

OMB requesting comment on federal data strategy and principles

According to FedScoop, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the unit in the White House which handles executive branch information policies and procedures, is requesting public comment and best practices on the Federal Data Strategy, including a new draft set of principles based on three overarching themes: data stewardship, quality, and continuous improvement. Of specific concern to me is the Fed’s focus on “commercialization challenges.” This has all kinds of implications on libraries, data collections and services. Please forward to interested library groups. Comments are due July 27, 2018.

Today, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and its government partners took a significant step towards achieving that goal. They have launched a new website, strategy.data.gov, to encourage public comment on the Federal Data Strategy, including a new draft set of principles based on three overarching themes: data stewardship, quality, and continuous improvement. These government leaders are also especially interested in use cases that can be models for future work. Any member of the public can provide direct input here. The announcement today presents an ideal opportunity for government data providers and data users of all kinds to have an impact on how the Federal Data Strategy develops.

via Why we need a federal data strategy.

Time Use Study of Reading in America

It is nice to see an article in a popular magazine make good and explicit use of government data. This article has a couple of added bonuses for government information librarians: It is about reading and it does a very good job of explaining how to avoid being mislead by sloppy use of data. It also uses one of my favorite datasets, the Bureau of Labor Statistics' American Time Use Survey!

Here there’s a little bit of good news: the average American reader spent 1.39 hours reading in 2003, rising to 1.48 hours in 2016. That’s the very gradually rising blue line in the graph above. In other words, the average reading time of all Americans declined not because readers read less but because fewer people were reading at all, a proportion falling from 26.3 per cent of the population in 2003 to 19.5 per cent in 2016.

Historical election data and mapping now easier than ever!

I’ve been exploring the Constituency-Level Elections Archive (CLEA) and have been impressed by their historical lower house election data coverage from countries around the world, not just the US Congress.

Things are really starting to shape up (pun intended!) in having access to historical election results! And through the work of Jeffrey B. Lewis et al., you can get data describing the historical boundaries of each congressional district via their United States Congressional District Shapefiles site. In a Scientific Data article published last year, quantitative geographer Levi John Wolf presented a dataset that brings the two types of information together, so that all congressional election results from 1896 to 2014 are “explicitly linked to the geospatial data about the districts themselves.”

The Constituency-Level Elections Archive (CLEA) is a repository of detailed election results at the constituency level for lower house legislative elections from around the world. Our motivation is to preserve and consolidate these valuable data in one comprehensive and reliable resource that is ready for analysis and publicly available at no cost. This public good is expected to be of use to a range of audiences for research, education, and policy-making.

via Constituency-Level Elections Archive (CLEA).

HT Daniel Schuman!

Threats to Government Data

Researchers at the Brookings Institution are monitoring the Trump administration’s management of federal government data sources.

Census. The Census Bureau has canceled crucial preparations for the upcoming decennial census because of persistent underfunding and that the Bureau has delayed the next Economic Census. The Census Bureau Director resigned in May 2017 and a replacement has yet to take the helm.

Federal Election Commission. The 2016 biannual election results were released approximately five months late.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The President has proposed its budget by 17 percent, or $1.2 billion and there have reports that the agency banned use of words like “transgender,” “diversity,” and “fetus” in the CDC’s budget request.

Bureau of Labor Statistics. Underfunding has caused the Bureau to eliminate statistics on mass layoffs and green jobs. The President has proposed an additional 21 percent cut to the Department of Labor, which houses the BLS.

More details in the full article.

Supreme Court transcripts

Do you need audio recordings of the Supreme Court hearings? How about transcripts of those audio recordings available for bulk download? Are you responsible for helping people find data as well as government information? Are you looking for alternative sources for government data — in bulk? Well, if you are not already subscribed to Jeremy Singer-Vine’s wonderful mailing list Data is Plural, you should be. Here is just one example of what you’ll get (taken from the 2017.06.14 edition):

Supreme Court transcripts. Oyez.org bills itself as , among other things, “a complete and authoritative source for all of the [Supreme] Court’s audio since the installation of a recording system in October 1955.” The site has an API and releases all its material — including timestamped transcripts of oral arguments — under a Creative Commons license . A least two GitHub repositories have aggregated the transcripts and make them easy to bulk-download. For each segment of audio, the transcripts list the start/end time, the speaker, and the text. Related: PuppyJusticeAutomated , a YouTube channel that (a) must be seen to be understood and (b) uses the Oyez API . Previously: CourtListener (DIP 2016.04.13) and The Supreme Court Database (DIP 2016.02.23). [h/t Walker Boyle + Reddit user 21cannons ]

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