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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.

To read: “Cutting through the Fog: Govt Information, Librarians, & the 45th Presidency”

Kian Flynn and Cass Hartnett have just published a solid article in Reference & User Services Quarterly, 57(3) called “Cutting through the Fog: Government Information, Librarians, and the Forty-Fifth Presidency” (full citation below!). In it, they broadly highlight the current govt information landscape — kindly mention several projects including LOCKSS-USDOCS! — and then come to a very positive conclusion:

Going forward, librarians must face the present—and the future—state of government information in order to cut through this fog. We need to work together to pursue collaborative partnerships to safeguard past, present, and future government information for the public’s long-term access and consumption, and to promote services that encourage our users to critically evaluate and interrogate all information. Our collaborations must move in two directions at once: (1) We need to ensure that official legal processes are in place to best manage government information (the hoped-for outcome of Title 44 reform). And (2) we need to create nongovernmental solutions to preserve secondary “use copies” of government information as well (read: backups), holding the information in trust together. The solutions we create today need to be adaptable for the government information landscape of the future.

One thing I thought I should mention. In their section on highlighting collections, they helpfully point the reader to publications from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), Congressional Budget Office (CBO), and Congressional Research Service (CRS) as particularly valuable and relevant for their “dispassionate, scholarly, ‘just the facts’ approach.” I think it should be noted that none of these are hosted on GPO’s govinfo.gov platform, only the GAO has a partnership in place w GPO to permanently preserve their documents, the CBO has been under an unprecedented attack on its legitimacy by the GOP, and CRS reports, until recently — and after a 20 year grassroots effort! — were never made publicly available or distributed via the FDLP. It takes a village of libraries to assure permanent public access!

Please read and forward to others who may be interested. Thanks Kian and Cass!

Flynn, K., & Hartnett, C. (2018). Cutting through the Fog: Government Information, Librarians, and the Forty-Fifth Presidency. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 57(3), 208-216. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.5860/rusq.57.3.6608

GAO adds 2020 census to its high risk list

The U.S. Constitution — Article I, Section 2, clause 3, as modified by Section 2 of the 14th Amendment — requires a population census every 10 years for apportioning seats in the House of Representatives. However, in the wake of US Census Bureau Director John Thompson’s abrupt resignation in May — which garnered a rash of editorials and news articles decrying his resignation at this critical time! — and the Trump administration and GOP-led Congress failing to fully fund the 2020 effort, the 2020 census could be “heading for a train wreck” as Terri Ann Lowenthal, the former co-director of the Census Project, put it so succinctly.

Accordingly, the Government Accountability Office has added the 2020 US census to its high risk list. Issues which raised the threat level for GAO include cancelled field tests for 2017, critical IT uncertainties, information security risks, and “unreliable” cost estimates which do not “conform to best practices.”

Strap in folks, we’re in for a bumpy couple of years for the census. If you have a Senator on the Senate Appropriations Committee or Representative on the House Appropriations Committee, please contact them early and often and ask — nay plead! — that they fully fund the US Census Bureau in order to complete the constitutionally mandated decennial census.

For more background on the US census, see this CRS Report “The Decennial Census: Issues for 2020.”

Every 2 years at the start of a new Congress, GAO calls attention to agencies and program areas that are high risk due to their vulnerabilities to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement, or are most in need of transformation. The 2017 update identified 3 new High Risk areas and removed 1 area. The update is available below.

via U.S. GAO – High Risk List.

Secret GAO Reports

Steven Aftergood says that “The Government Accountability Office this week quietly published a list of titles of its restricted reports that have not been publicly released because they contain classified information or controlled unclassified information.”

GAO report on Library of Congress

gao_loc

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report last week that criticized management of information technology at the Library of Congress.

Here is a roundup of some of the news and commentary about the report:

America’s ‘national library’ is lacking in leadership, yet another report finds, By Peggy McGlone, Washington Post (March 31, 2015).

Watchdog: Library of Congress Lacks a Digital Blueprint – And Doesn’t Know How Much It Spends on Technology, By Jack Moore, NextGov (April 1, 2015).

GAO: Library of Congress continues to suffer poor IT management, By Stephanie Kanowitz, FierceGovIT (April 2, 2015).

Lawmakers want Library of Congress reforms but not librarian’s resignation, By Peggy McGlone, Washington Post (April 2, 2015).

Digital Neglect at the Library of Congress, By THE EDITORIAL BOARD, New York Times (April 5, 2015).

GAO Report: Voter ID laws reduce turnout more among African American and younger voters

A new report just released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) entitled “ELECTIONS: Issues Related to State Voter Identification Laws” (GAO-14-634) found that requiring voters to have special ID in order to vote makes voter turnout go down and this disproportionally effects young and minority voters. And you wonder why republicans in states like Wisconsin, North Carolina, Texas, Kansas, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania are instituting restrictive voter ID laws — Since the 2010 election, new voting restrictions are slated to be in place in 22 states according to the Brennan Center for Justice report “The State of Voting in 2014.” Rachel Maddow explains (watch the whole segment including the clip of Lewis Black ACLU ad on voter suppression). As Lewis Black says, “Elected officials shouldn’t get to choose who gets to choose elected officials!”



Laws requiring voters to show identification when they cast a ballot have a greater impact on African Americans and younger voters than on other racial and age groups, according to a new analysis.

The report, issued Wednesday by the General Accounting Office, found that fewer African Americans have the types of identification — like a driver’s license or state-issued identification card — required to obtain a ballot than whites. As a consequence, turnout among African American voters fell by a larger percent than turnout among white voters in two states that implemented identification requirements between 2008 and 2012.

Black turnout dropped by 3.7 percentage points more than white turnout in Kansas, and by 1.5 percentage points more than whites in Tennessee after voter ID laws passed. Among 18 year olds, turnout dropped by 7.1 percentage points more in Kansas than it did among those aged 44 to 53 year-olds in Kansas. Turnout in Tennessee fell by 1.2 percentage points more among those aged 19 to 23 than among the older set.

via Report: Voter ID laws reduce turnout more among African American and younger voters – The Washington Post.

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