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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.

GovInfo.gov

Today GPO announced the launch of the beta version of www.govinfo.gov. It is a new front end to the content of FDsys.gov, providing a mobile-friendly interface, An ABC list of collections, Quick Links to popular publications, Related Documents, a Browse by date option, a front-page link to the most recent issue of popular serial publications, Shareable social media content, and more.

See the overview for more details. There is also a link on that page to a survey so you can tell GPO what you think.

Since it is in beta, not all features are available yet and changes will be coming.

GPO & Federal Judiciary Provide Access To More Than One Million Federal Court Opinions

This is an important milestone! (It is important to note that this project has Court Opinions, and does not include everything in the notorious PACER system. See FDsys Court Opinions Project and PACER.)

GPO Press Release:
GPO & FEDERAL JUDICIARY HONORED FOR PROVIDING ACCESS TO MORE THAN ONE MILLION FEDERAL COURT OPINIONS [PDF]

Excerpt:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 15, 2015
No. 15-18

GPO & Federal Judiciary Honored For Providing Access To More Than One Million Federal Court Opinions

WASHINGTON –The U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) and the Federal Judiciary have been honored with a 2015 Digital Government Achievement award in the Government-to-Government category for providing the public digital access to 1.4 million Federal court opinions on GPO’s Federal Digital System. Since the program was approved by the Judicial Conference of the United States and GPO’s congressional oversight committee, the Joint Committee on Printing in 2011, there been more than 300 million retrievals of opinions from 104 Federal courts. The content of this collection dates back to April 2004. The secure transfer of files to GPO from the Administrative Office of the United States Courts (AOUSC) allows GPO to authenticate the files with digital signatures. Once an opinion is located, all associated opinions within the same case can be accessed from that opinion

View opinions on FDsys: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/browse/collection.action?collectionCode=USCOURTS&browsePath=CourtType4&isCollapsed=false&leafLevelBrowse=false&ycord=0

“This is a tremendous honor and milestone for our partnership with the Federal Judiciary in providing the public access to these import court opinions,” said GPO Director Davita Vance-Cooks. “This success shows the scope of GPO’s publishing capabilities by providing the technology to make all Government information available to the public in one authentic, digital repository. GPO will continue to work with the Federal Judiciary to make more opinions digitally available to the public.”

Take Action to Support Library of Congress and GPO Funding

The American Association of Law Libraries’ Government Relations Committee (GRC) Access to Information Subcommittee has just put out an urgent call for action. We at FGI would echo this call and ask our readers to TAKE ACTION NOW to get Congress to adequately fund the Library of Congress and the Government Publishing Office (GPO)! DO IT NOW! For background information, see AALL’s action alert below.

Hello, Advocates!

This month’s post from the GRC Access to Information subcommittee contains an urgent message about legislative branch appropriations. Thanks in advance for taking action!

Action Needed! Funding for GPO’s FDsys Cut from Legislative Branch Appropriations Bill

The House Appropriations Committee just released the draft FY2016 Legislative Appropriations bill, which includes funding for the Government Publishing Office. GPO’s Revolving Fund, which funds FDsys upgrades (plus system upgrades and building repairs) has been completely cut out of the draft bill. At the Legislative Subcommittee mark up today, Ranking Member Debbie Wasserman Schultz eloquently expressed her concern, speaking about GPO’s vital role in transparency and access to democracy. She said the denial of GPO’s request to invest in its online system is a threat to free public access to legislative information. Her remarks can be viewed here, starting around the 11 minute mark. A summary of the bill can be found here, and the full text here.

Please contact your member of Congress to express your support for full funding of GPO, in particular the need to fund continued improvements to their online information system. You can use AALL’s Legislative Action Center on GPO and LC Funding. It’s a fast, easy way to advocate for this important funding. It’s particularly important if your representative serves on the House Appropriations Committee! You can read more about AALL’s support for GPO funding here.

Library of Congress

In case you missed this developing story, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a 127-page report of its year-long review of the Library of Congress IT management and resources: Strong Leadership Needed to Address Serious Information Technology Management Weakness, GAO-15-315, March 2015. GAO highlights and recommendations are here.

The Washington Post published two articles about the GAO report: America’s “National Library” is Lacking in Leadership, Yet Another Report Finds (3/31/15) and Lawmakers Want Library of Congress Reforms but not Librarian’s Resignation (4/2/15). The New York Times published an editorial, Digital Neglect at the Library of Congress (4/4/15).

Despite GAO’s critical report, the House Appropriations Legislative Branch bill provides LC with an increase of $510,000 above the fiscal year 2015 enacted level. You can read more about AALL’s support for Library of Congress funding here.

– Submitted by Peggy Jarrett, Gallagher Law Library, University of Washington School of Law.

FDsys milestone: one billion objects delivered

On March 26, a visitor at the Government Printing Office’s Federal Digital System (FDsys) downloaded a Federal Register notice from the Securities and Exchange Commission, which was the one billionth object retrieved through the site.

Big Step for Public Access to Legislation

Daniel Schuman reports: “Earlier today, the House of Representatives’ Appropriations Committee made a major move towards improving public access to legislative information. In layman’s terms, the committee said that by the beginning of the next Congress information about the disposition of bills—where they are in the legislative process and who authored or co-sponsored the legislation—will be published in a way that computers can easily process, and thus can be easily reused by apps and websites.”

Read the complete post here:

And here is the report language:

The Committee request that the Clerk of the House, the Librarian of Congress and the Public Printer work together to make available to the public through Congress.gov or FDsys bulk data downloads of bill status by the beginning of the next Congress.

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