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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.

CRS Reports, E-government, Thomas, indexing of the government web, and more!

This hearing should be of professional interest to government information specialists!

In pre-hearing news coverage (Web Leaders Seek More Searchable Government, by Kim Hart, Washington Post, December 11, 2007; page D08), Hart quotes the witnesses as saying that, even though four out of five Web surfers use search engines to find information and bypass the agency’s home page, basic government information often does not show up in results provided by search engines run by Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Ask.com.

Witnesses Testimony is already available online as PDF documents:

  • Karen S. Evans, Administrator, Office of Electronic Government and Information Technology , Office of Management and Budget
  • John Lewis Needham, Manager, Public Sector Content Partnerships , Google, Inc.
  • Ari Schwartz, Deputy Director , Center for Democracy and Technology
  • Jimmy Wales, Founder , Wikipedia

The purpose of the hearing is to examine what progress the government has made in getting services and information online and available to the public; what new technologies can be used to enhance the government’s ability to collaborate and share information; and what challenges remain five years since the passage of the E-Government Act.

In addition, Senator Lieberman will be announcing at the hearing that he’ll be introducing legislation to make CRS reports available to the public, and an initiative to enhance the availability and format of legislative information through THOMAS.

Get Hearings Fast!

Getting a hearing quickly is difficult if not impossible — unless you have money. Now, without fanfair, one committee is making it easier. See a list here, and read more about it in Dan Froomkin’s article, Citizen Journalists, Start Your Engines! (December 4, 2007).

Major hearings are often transcribed in real-time by CQ Transcripts and the Federal News Service, but those are copyrighted works that are only available to those who pay for them or have a subscription to Nexis.

Up until now, it took more than six months for public-domain transcripts of most hearings to become available. They had to work their way through an arduous proofing and approval process before finally being published by the Government Printing Office.

But now, without any formal announcement, the House Oversight Committee has started Web-publishing the preliminary transcripts prepared by official stenographers as soon as they are available — typically within a few days of the hearing. In other words, while the news is still fresh.

Let’s hope other committees follow its lead.