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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.
Check out this cool new partnership between the US Census Bureau and Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) to archive and preserve data for future use. This deepens the longstanding collaboration between the two organizations. You can find it online at census.icpsr.umich.edu/.
A new U.S. Census Bureau Data Repository has been launched to preserve and disseminate survey instruments, specifications, data dictionaries, codebooks, and other materials provided by the Census Bureau. The Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR), the host of this repository, has also listed additional Census-related data collections from its larger holdings.
This repository helps fulfill key recommendations made by the 2017 “Report of the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking.” Specifically, the repository improves transparency by establishing a “searchable inventory, through which the public can learn about the data that government collects.” The robust metadata also enable “researchers inside and outside government … [to] be better able to identify which data are needed and useful for answering policy questions, conducting program evaluations, and reducing inefficient and unnecessary data requests.”
This repository continues the long-standing partnership between the US Census Bureau and ICPSR, dating back to the 1960s. During that time, ICPSR digitized historical population and demographic data from the published reports of the US decennial census from 1790 to 1970, and made them available to the scholarly community.
Drop everything and watch this presentation from the 2017 Code4Lib conference that took place in Los Angeles March 6-9, 2017. Heck, watch the entire proceedings because there is a bunch of interesting and thoughtful stuff going on in the world of libraries and technology! But in particular, check out Matt Zumwalt’s presentation “How the distributed web could bring a new Golden Age for Libraries” — after submitting his talk, he changed the new title to “Storing data together: the movement to decentralize data and how libraries can lead it” because of the DataRefuge movement.
Zumwalt (aka @FLyingZumwalt on twitter), works at Protocol Labs, one of the primary developers of IPFS, the Interplanetary File System (IPFS) — grok their tagline “HTTP is obsolete. It’s time for the distributed, permanent web!” He has spent much of his spare time over the last 9 months working with groups like EDGI, DataRefuge, and the Internet Archive to help preserve government datasets.
Here’s what Matt said in a nutshell: The Web is precarious. But using peer-to-peer distributed network architecture, we can “store data together”, we can collaboratively preserve and serve out government data. This resonates with me as an FDLP librarian. What if a network of FDLP libraries actually took this on? This isn’t some far-fetched, scifi idea. The technologies and infrastructures are already there. Over the last 9 months, researchers, faculty and public citizens around the country have already gotten on board with this idea. Libraries just have to get together and agree that it’s a good thing to collect/download, store, describe and serve out government information. Together we can do this!
Matt’s talk starts at 3:07:41 of the YouTube video below. Please watch it, let his ideas sink in, share it, start talking about it with your colleagues and administrators in your library, and get moving. Government information could be the great test case for the distributed web and a new Golden Age for Libraries!
This presentation will show how the worldwide surge of work on distributed technologies like the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) opens the door to a flourishing of community-oriented librarianship in the digital age. The centralized internet, and the rise of cloud services, has forced libraries to act as information silos that compete with other silos to be the place where content and metadata get stored. We will look at how decentralized technologies allow libraries to break this pattern and resume their missions of providing discovery, access and preservation services on top of content that exists in multiple places.
This week is Endangered Data Week, a new effort to raise awareness about publicly available data and the threats to its creation, sharing and retention. Follow along with the conversation at the Twitter hashtag #EndangeredData, check out the Endangered Data events near you, tune in on friday for the webinar hosted by the Digital Library Federation (DLF) “Endangered Accountability: A DLF-Sponsored Webinar on FOIA, Government Data, and Transparency” and definitely sign up for the new DLF Interest Group on Records Transparency/Accountability.
There’s never been such an open window of opportunity for govt information librarians to prove their metal and work together to assure the preservation of born-digital govt information in all its guises. So jump in and get involved today!
Political events in the United States have shed new light on the fragility of publicly administered data. In just the first few weeks of the Trump administration and 115th Congress, the Environmental Protection Agency was allegedly ordered to remove climate change information from its website, the USDA removed animal welfare data from its website, and the House passed H.Res.5, specifically excluding changes to the Affordable Care Act from mandatory long-term cost data analysis. The Senate and House of Representatives have both received proposed bills (S.103 and H.R.482) prohibiting funding from being used “to design, build, maintain, utilize, or provide access to a Federal database of geospatial information on community racial disparities or disparities in access to affordable housing.” While researchers, archivists, librarians, and watchdog groups work hard to create and preserve open data, there’s little guarantee that information under federal control will always survive changes to federal agencies.
Please tune in next Wednesday, March 29, 2017 from 9am – 10am Pacific / 12:00 – 1:00pm Eastern for the next Help! I’m an Accidental Government Information Librarian Webinar “Saving government data: A conversation with the future.” You’ll need to RSVP for the session in order to get the link to the WebEx live session. “See” you there!
Help! I’m an Accidental Government Information Librarian presents … Saving government data: A conversation with the future, on Wednesday, March 29, 2017 from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. (Eastern).
In recent months, the DataRefuge project has collaborated with hundreds of volunteers around the United States to collect, describe, and store federal data that support climate and environmental research and advocacy. This project, and others like it, works in conjunction with the End of Term Web Archive to capture and make available federal web content during administrative transitions.
Our discussion will explore the fragility of digital information, and expand on ideas about what data is. We’ll talk about current projects and efforts, and explore the future of this work. Finally, we’ll address the concept of sustainability, and propose a paradigm of empowered experimentation that aligns with our values and roles within libraries.
We will meet together for Session #69, online on Wednesday, March 29, 2017 from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. (Eastern). Please RSVP for the session using this link: http://bit.ly/GRS-Session69
We will use WebEx for the live session. Information on testing and accessing the session will be made available when you register.
The session will be recorded and available after the live session, linked from the NCLA GRS web page (http://www.nclaonline.org/government-resources).
Laurie Allen is the Assistant Director for Digital Scholarship in the Penn Libraries, where she leads a group working to expand the capacity of researchers at Penn to create and share scholarship in new forms. The group engages in digital project development, data management and curation, mapping, experimentations with emerging research methods, and open access publishing. In late 2016, Allen was part of the group that started Data Refuge, and has been involved in bringing together a group of collaborators to form a network of libraries, open data activists and open government efforts.
James A. Jacobs is Data Services Librarian Emeritus, University of California San Diego. He has more than 25 years experience working with digital information, digital services, and digital library collections. He is a technical consultant and advisor to the Center for Research Libraries in the auditing and certification of digital repositories using the Trusted Repository Audit Checklist (TRAC) and related CRL criteria. He served as Data Services Librarian at the University of California San Diego and co-taught the ICPSR summer workshop, “Providing Social Science Data Services: Strategies for Design and Operation”. He is a co-founder of Free Government Information.
James R. Jacobs is the US Government Information Librarian at Stanford University Libraries where he works on both collection development as well as digital projects like LOCKSS-USDOCS. He is a member of ALA’s Government Documents Roundtable (GODORT) and served a 3-year term on Depository Library Council to the Public Printer, including serving as DLC Chair. He is a co-founder of Free Government Information (freegovinfo.info) and Radical Reference (radicalreference.info) and is on the board of Question Copyright, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that promotes a better public understanding of the effects of copyright, and encourages the development of alternatives to information monopolies.
Shari Laster is the Government Information Librarian and Data Services Librarian at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She currently serves as Assistant Chair/Chair-Elect for the Government Documents Round Table of the American Library Association, and is a past chair of the Depository Library Council, the advisory body for the Federal Depository Library Program.