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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.

NASA rolls out PubSpace, public portal for NASA-funded research

The 2013 White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) memorandum, “Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Research,” is really starting to bare fruit. NASA just announced the creation of PubSpace — which will go hand in hand with the NASA Data Portal — to provide a public access portal to NASA-funded research AND the underlying data.

There are 2 things to note: 1) NASA is using PubMedCentral (PMC) as its repository, along with other federal agencies like National Institutes of Health (NIH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), National Institute of Standards and technology (NIST), and the Veterans Administration (VA); and 2) as the NASA press release notes, there will be a deficit embargo period placed on NASA funded publications as researchers will have 1 year to deposit articles and data into PubSpace.

This is a very good step in the right Open Access direction for free access to federally funded research and data!

Public access to NASA-funded research data now is just a click away, with the launch of a new agency public access portal. The creation of the NASA-Funded Research Results portal on NASA.gov reflects the agency’s ongoing commitment to providing broad public access to science data.

“At NASA, we are celebrating this opportunity to extend access to our extensive portfolio of scientific and technical publications,” said NASA Deputy Administrator Dava Newman. “Through open access and innovation we invite the global community to join us in exploring Earth, air and space.”

NASA now requires articles in peer-reviewed scholarly journals and papers in juried conference proceedings be publicly accessible via the agency’s PubSpace.

PubSpace is an archive of original science journal articles produced by NASA-funded research and available online without a fee. The data will be available for download, reading and analysis within one year of publication.

via NASA Unveils New Public Web Portal for Research Results | NASA.

FBI replies to Stingray FOIA request with 5,000 blank pages

FOIA'd FBI document inre Stingray cell towersThis is an unbelievable story about the FBI being complete jerks about the FOIA requests they’ve received from MuckRock in regards to fake cellphone towers called “Stingrays” which are used to “gather identity/location information” on everyone that passes by them — which btw I had no idea these things were real! MuckRock received almost 5000 pages of FOIA’d documents which were almost completely redacted. I wonder how this is meeting the Obama Administration’s [[Open Government Initiative]].

The Stingray — a fake cellphone tower that gathers identity/location information on everyone who passes it — is the worst-kept secret in law enforcement, but that doesn’t stop feds from going to absurd lengths to pretend they don’t use them.

We know that police departments have to sign non-disclosure agreements when they buy Stingrays, and we’ve even seen them lie to judges about how they acquired their evidence to maintain their non-disclosure obligations. We’ve seen US Marshalls raid city cops to steal Stingray evidence before it could be introduced in court (even more dismaying — it worked, and the case against the cops collapsed because the evidence had been disappeared down the Marshalls’ memory hole).

Since 2014, Muckrock has been firing out Freedom of Information Act requests about Stingrays to agencies at all levels of government, using crowdfunded dough to pay for it.

The fun-loving feds at the FBI have turned over 5,000 pages of Stingray records in response to one set of Muckrock requests — but they redacted virtually every word on every page first.

[HT BoingBoing]

Open government audit: agencies straddle the Mendoza line in meeting OGD goals

On January 21, 2009, as one of his first acts as President, President Obama released his Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government. The memorandum instructed that government should be transparent, government should be participatory, government should be collaborative. On December 8, 2009, Peter Orzag, the head of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued the Open Government Directive (PDF) establishing deadlines for application of those three principles of open government — readers will remember that Federal CIOs were only lukewarm about the administration’s transparency goals. The memorandum requires executive departments and agencies to take the following steps toward the goal of creating a more open government:

  1. Publish Government Information Online
  2. Improve the Quality of Government Information
  3. Create and Institutionalize a Culture of Open Government
  4. Create an Enabling Policy Framework for Open Government

A group of non-profit govt transparency organizations — including OpenTheGovernment, Sunlight Foundation, American Library Association, American Association of Law Libraries, Center for Democracy and Technology and several other groups — got together to measure how federal agencies were doing to meet the open government directive. They evaluated federal agencies based on a set of criteria (here’s their methodology for how the scores were derived) and found that NASA, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Environmental Protection Agency scored highest while Department of Treasury, Department of Defense, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Department of Energy, and the Department of Justice ranked last in terms of meeting the goals of the open government initiative. Those interested should check back at the site as the organizations will continue to evaluate agencies’ improvements over the next year. By the way, here’s more on the [w:Mendoza Line], the baseball measurement for threshold of incompetence.

We commend the President for his commitment to openness and for providing detailed elements in the OGD that can be used to hold federal agencies accountable. Many of the federal agencies have approached implementation of the OGD requirements with energy and enthusiasm and some have taken innovative steps in their plans. If implemented with spirit, vigor, and innovation, the Open Government Plans can serve as a vehicle for fundamentally changing the way the federal government interacts with the public. This, in turn, may prove to be a catalyst for shifting public trust in government.

At the same time, many of the agency plans as unveiled on April 7 have a long way to go to create this transformational potential. As this audit demonstrates, there is wide variation in the agency plans. Some are exceptional; others are quite weak. Most are somewhere in between. Many of the plans that currently do not meet the minimal requirements identified in the OGD can do so with only modest improvements, such as providing more specificity on deadlines or identifying where certain items mentioned in the plans can be found. An overview of what we found is below.

Final Rankings

Open Government at NARA

In response to the Open Government Directive, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has created a web page devoted to its Open Government Initiatives (http://www.archives.gov/open/). Currently, it lists four NARA datasets: CFR, Federal Register, Archival Descriptions from ARC, and Organizational Descriptions from ARC. These listings conform to the Open Government Directive call for agencies to create a gateway at the specific web address at http://www.[agency].gov/open.

But, in addition, NARA has created “a records control schedule website that allows the public and Federal agencies to browse scanned copies of unclassified, NARA-approved records control schedules.” (http://www.archives.gov/records-mgmt/rcs/). The only “announcement” of this new service so far has apparently been a response to a question on the NARAtions blog. Kate has more details and background at ArchivesNext. (Big hat tip!).

Open Government Directive

Tuesday (December 8th), the White House released the Open Government Directive. For more information, view the announcement here:

You can also read more about it by reading the White House memorandum: Transparency and Open Government. Or you can check out the cool timeline on the Sunlight Foundation blog.

Yay for transparency…because government information needs to be free!