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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.

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).

GPO posts comments to 2/22 draft Title 44 “reform” bill. Still replete w poison pills

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). The latest draft of the bill has not been made publicly available beyond GPO and a few lobbyists, so I have not seen this version. But it’s clear from GPO’s comments and analysis that the bill still contains a number of poison pills that will weaken if not completely gut GPO and make it impossible for GPO to support any positive FDLP changes for libraries and public access to govt information in general. If anyone has a copy of the 2/22 draft that they are able to share, I’d like to see how it compares to the earlier draft.

GPO sent “Comments on Draft Legislation to Amend Title 44, U.S.C. (February 22, 2018 version)” to the Committee on House Administration on February 27, 2018.  This document relays all comments, observations, and concerns with the draft revision to Title 44 as it relates to the Federal Depository Library Program, other Superintendent of Documents programs, and to GPO as an organization.

via Comments on Draft Legislation to Amend Title 44, U.S.C. (February 22, 2018 version; Comments submitted February 27, 2018).

GPO releases comments on draft Title 44 reform bill

The Government Publishing Office (GPO) has recently made public their comments regarding the draft title 44 reform bill (PDF) currently working its way through the Congressional Committee on House Administration (CHA). GPO’s comments are broken into the following sections:

  • Contracting out congressional printing
  • Decentralizing agency printing
  • Work produced in agency plants
  • Economic impact on GPO
  • Regulatory authority
  • Government Printing Office / Public Printer
  • Joint Committee on Printing
  • Elimination of duplicating from statutory definition of printing
  • Increased discretionary expenditures
  • FDLP Improvements

We certainly appreciate GPO’s analysis of the draft bill and its impact. It mirrors and reiterates much of what we and many others have been saying about this bill. That is, the bill as written would have extreme negative effects on GPO’s budget, infrastructure and staff — which would have a drastic impact on GPO’s ability to manage FDLP services for the nation’s libraries downstream! — it would re-decentralize and deregulate printing and public information access across the government, thus driving up the costs of public information provision and greatly expand the issue of fugitive government information. If this bill is enacted, the public, libraries and the government itself would suffer as the long-standing FDLP system providing access to and preservation of government information would crumble.

We recommend that you read GPO’s analysis as well as our “Suggestions for Revisions to Chapter 5 of the Title 44 Bill” and contact Chairman Greg Harper and your representatives on the CHA as well as your Senators on the Joint Committee on Printing.

“Comments on Draft Legislation to Amend Title 44, U.S.C. (December 11, 2017 version)” to the Committee on House Administration on January 31, 2018.  This document relays all comments, observations, and concerns with the draft revision to Title 44 as it relates to the Federal Depository Library Program, other Superintendent of Documents programs, and to GPO as an organization. 

via Comments on Draft Legislation to Amend Title 44, U.S.C. (December 11, 2017 version; Comments submitted January 31, 2018).

Title 44 “reform”: Privatization of printing and erosion of GPO functions mean less public access

Happy 2018! We’re back after a quiet and relaxing new year hiatus. While it’s a new year, we’re still in the throes of Congressional “reform” of Title 44 of the US Code, which defines public printing, distribution of government information, and the federal depository library program (FDLP). Up to this point, we had focused our analysis of the Title 44 “reform” bill on chapter 5, which deals with the FDLP and also published Bernadine Abbott Hoduski’s eloquent argument for why the Joint Committee on Printing (JCP) should be kept.

Peggy Jarrett’s recent piece on LLRX “Legislation Alert: Worrisome Changes to Government Publications Are Possible” has spurred us to go back and look more closely at chapters 1 and 3 which deal with the Government Printing Office (yes this bill changes the name back to the antiquated Printing Office!) and “implementation of authorities.” We believe that these were deliberately embedded into the bill to slash GPO’s budget and hamstring GPO’s ability to provide necessary services, thus severely impacting both public access to government information and the FDLP system. We highly recommend that readers go back and read these 2 chapters with a fine toothed comb and help us sift through. The draft bill is set for markup by the Committee on House Administration (CHA) some time toward the end of January. So there’s still time for the library community to get a grasp of the fine print of the bill and recommend changes to our library lobbyists at the ALA Washington Office (the point person there is Gavin Baker) and directly to the committee.

Here are the lowlights of what we’ve found so far:

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Tax bill’s automatic spending cuts would decimate GPO along w many critical programs

I was struck by the data visualization in today’s NY Times UpShot column which showed just how much impact the “tax cut” bill would have on government services across the federal government for at least the next 10 years! “If Congress passes its tax bill and then takes no other action, the funding for dozens of federal spending programs could be cut — in many cases to nothing — beginning next year.”

Of course the biggest bubble/cut would occur to Medicare, with a sequesterable amount of $25.5 billion for 2018. As I scrolled down to the table listing the 228 agencies and programs which would be cut in 2018, the 4th one down is GPO’s Business Operations Revolving Fund, which could be cut $2 million in 2018, with cuts for 10 years. $2 million doesn’t sound like a lot of money, but GPO only requested $8,540,000 for the revolving fund for FY18. That’s a 25% cut! The revolving fund pays for improvements to GPO’s FDsys (and its successor system, govinfo) as well as other essential IT projects and things like enhancing the cybersecurity of GPO’s IT systems and other necessary physical infrastructure projects.

GPO is already working with a shrinking number of employees and a bare bones budget which has been flat or cut over the last 10 years. GPO programs — including the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP)! — can NOT be sustained if this “tax cut” bill is passed.

With passage of this “tax cut” bill, GPO’s demise is no longer hypothetical. What will FDLP libraries do in that case? Does GPO have a formal succession plan or escrow arrangements (key components of a Trusted Digital Repository audit!)? And what will FDLP libraries do to maintain critical access to and preservation of government information going forward?

We need EVERY librarian to contact their representatives early and often and let them know what devastating effects this “tax cut” bill will have — on libraries yes, but on so many critical programs from Medicare to flood insurance, farm security, meals on wheels, Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, and so many other programs across the Federal government.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the deficit increase from the tax bill would be large enough — $1.5 trillion over 10 years — that spending for the unprotected programs would be reduced to zero next year and nearly zero over the next nine years.

Each bubble above represents the size of an automatic budget cut that could take place next year.

The Statutory Pay-as-You-Go Act of 2010, or Paygo, is an Obama-era update of a rule first enacted under President George H.W. Bush. It requires that legislation that adds to the federal deficit be paid for with spending cuts, increases in revenue or other offsets.

via The Tax Bill’s Automatic Spending Cuts – The New York Times.

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