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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.

Found and liberated: DHS Daily Open Source Infrastructure Report

On January 25, we blogged that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Daily Open Source Infrastructure Report has been summarily discontinued. This report provided a daily curated selection of articles/links/summaries to open source articles about various areas of U.S. critical infrastructure.

Effective January 18, 2017, the Office of Infrastructure Protection (IP) is discontinuing the DHS Daily Open Source Infrastructure Report. The discontinuation of this report is part of broader efforts to more efficiently focus resources towards the highest priority needs of the critical infrastructure security and resilience community. IP is committed to working closely with our public and private sector partners in identifying innovative approaches to exchanging information in a timely and actionable manner to further support risk mitigation activities.

One reader, Dr. Megan Squire, a CS professor at Elon University, took it upon herself to harvest the reports (2,151 PDF files!) and deposit them in the Internet Archive. These are now part of the Internet Archive’s growing Government Documents collection. Thanks Megan for this work! I hope our readers will take up the “rogue internet archivist” mantle and collect and preserve digital government information in all its guises and at all levels!!

On January 18, 2017 the US Department of Homeland Security discontinued its Daily Open Source Infrastructure Report service which it had run since October 2006. To enable researchers to study the content of these reports, I collected as many as I could find (2,151 PDF files) and released them to the Internet Archive. You can find them here: DHS Daily Open Source Infrastructure Reports 2006-2017

The PDF files came from the following URLs:


And when these yielded 404 errors (which they did for most pre-2013 files) I used the Internet Archive itself, with the following URL base:


via Found and liberated 2,151 missing DHS files – Megan’s Blog.

ALA Washington Office writes to DNI urging continuation of World News Connection

The library and research world heaved a collective sigh of disbelief and disappointment when the National Technical Information Service abruptly announced late last year that World News Connection (nee [[Foreign Broadcast Information Service]]) would cease operation on December 31, 2013. There were many letters requesting that the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) — which runs the [[Open Source Center]], the publisher of World News Connection — reconsider his rash decision. The most prominent was the December 18, 2013 letter written by the National Coalition for History and sixteen other organizations.

Today, the American Library Association (ALA) got on the record in support of bringing back World News Connection. The ALA’s Washington Office has written to James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, also asking him to reconsider.

January 22, 2014

The Honorable James Clapper
Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Washington, DC 20511

Dear General Clapper:

The American Library Association (ALA) respectfully requests that you reconsider the decision to discontinue distribution of the Open Source Center’s translations of foreign news media. The National Technical Information Office’s (NTIS) redistribution of the World News Connection database has been a staple for researchers of all types since its inception in the 1940s.

As you have already heard from the National Coalition for History and the other sixteen organizations which cosigned the December 18th letter, World News Connection plays a vital role in the work of many – historians, public policy experts, students, researchers, archivists, political scientists, journalists, government officials, and the average citizen interested in knowing more about the world around her.

As a product of a U.S. government agency – the Open Source Center – these translations have already been paid for by the citizens of this country. Making them publically available via NTIS is just the sort of open government initiative envisioned by the Second Open Government National Action Plan released on December 6. While not specifically a “foreign surveillance activity” distribution of the World News Connection translations falls well within the stated goal to “make public as much information as possible about certain sensitive intelligence collection programs.” Discontinuing WNC when the Obama administration is calling for increased declassification and transparency in foreign surveillance activities is counterintuitive at best.

We stand firmly with our colleagues in asking that this restrictive “closed government” decision be reversed and the WNC translations again be made available to the public via NTIS. Thank you for your consideration.

Emily Sheketoff, Executive Director
American Library Association Washington Office

ALA Washington Office Letter to DNI re World News Connection

opensource.gov blocking access to libraries

[w:Open source intelligence] — not to be confused with [w:Open-source software] — is “a form of intelligence collection management that involves finding, selecting, and acquiring information from publicly available sources (my emphasis) and analyzing it to produce actionable intelligence.” Libraries in the [w:Federal Depository Library Program] have since the early 1940s received output from this process in the form of [w:Foreign Broadcast Information Service] (FBIS) materials *for free*. FBIS materials offered translation of foreign news sources, and via the Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) foreign language books, newspapers, journals, unclassified foreign documents and research reports. FBIS became the World News Connection in 1996, but it is a severely limited version (about half) of what’s available for internal government use.

The Federal of American Scientists has more on FBIS. Check out FBIS and JPRS materials in library collections near you!

All that background as context to a very troublesome turn of events as described by a recent post on the govdoc-l list (see the email below stripped of personal information). This important piece of the govt information universe is now only available via a very expensive commercial database (World News Connection), depriving the academic and larger research communities of full access to all that is done by FBIS at taxpayer expense. Please help us by contacting the Open Source Center (OSCinfo@rccb.osis.gov 202-338-6735, or 1-800-205-8615) and Robert Tapella (PublicPrinter@gpo.gov) at the Government Printing Office and request that the Open Source Center offer free access of opensource.gov to depository libraries. Thanks!


Date: Wed, 24 Feb 2010 10:25:58 -0600
Subject: OpenSource.gov access

Has any library successfully gained access to OpenSource.gov?

For those who are unfamiliar with this resource, here is the what their web page says about them:

“OpenSource.gov provides timely and tailored translations, reporting and analysis on foreign policy and national security issues from the OpenSourceCenter and its partners. Featured are reports and translations from thousands of publications, television and radio stations, and Internet sources around the world. Also among the site’s holdings are a foreign video archive and fee-based commercial databases for which OSC has negotiated licenses. OSC’s reach extends from hard-to-find local publications and video to some of the most renowned thinkers on national security issues inside and outside the US Government. Accounts are available to US Government employees and contractors. Register today to see what OpenSource.gov has to offer.”

When we tried to register, they informed that we would have to justify why we needed access to the information and that we could get the information through World News Connection (via Dialog) OR, and I quote:

“In addition to the World News Connection, individuals may be able to access OSC products through university libraries, or the Federal Depository Library Program. Many Depository Libraries received CDs from the US Government Printing Office that contain select Open Source Center products.” [The CDs that they are referring to are the FBIS materials (PREX 7.10/3:)]

In our response, we informed them that WNC was an expensive database they we could not afford and that their information regarding OSC being distributed through the FDLP was sorely out of date since the CDs have NOT been distributed for over 5 years.

In their response, they say they are considering adding additional agencies such as the Federal Depository Library (FDL) as part of the approved list of agencies in OpenSource.gov., but such a review would take a considerable amount of time to do. (I took this to mean, when ‘ell freezes over.) Now here is the strange part–they think the FDLP is under the Dept of Interior and we could sign up that way–but our email address would need to have .gov or .mil in it. I am not sure, but I think they are actually referring to the Natural Resource Library in the U.S. Dept of Interior, which is a federal depository library, with which we are not associated, so this is NOT an option.

At this point I am stymied as to how we can have access to information that was formerly available FOR FREE through depository but is now only available through commercial ($$$) means. I know that GPO is aware that the CDs are no longer being distributed because of the creation of the OpenSource database. The only message I could find about this situation via the GOVDOC-L archives was from 2007 when they said “FDLP is still working with the agency OSC to get an agreement with how we are going to access their database.” It is now 3 years later and we still do not have access to this information.

In the meantime, we have a professor on campus doing research in Middle East affairs and would like to have access to more recent information than what we have in our library via microfiche and CDs. We can not afford WNC, so I don’t know what else we can do–except get access to OpenSource.gov. If anyone has been successful, I would be happy to hear how you did it.

The Open Source Center (formerly FBIS) is closed to you

Open Source Center Keeps Public in the Dark by Steven Aftergood, Secrecy News, May 19, 2008.

Steven Aftergood reports that Federal Government website, Open Source Center, the successor to the Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) ‘has imposed some rather ferocious controls on its unclassified products in order to shield them from public access. Even when its publications are not copyrighted, they are to be “treated as copyrighted” and in any case they “must not be disseminated to the public.”’