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The Federal Register is the official journal of the federal government of the United States that contains government agency rules, proposed rules, and public notices. There’s a particularly damaging bill, H.R. 195: Federal Register Printing Savings Act of 2017, winding its way through Congress, having already passed the House, reported out of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and is pending action and vote on the Senate floor. If passed, the bill — “To amend title 44, United States Code, to restrict the distribution of free printed copies of the Federal Register to Members of Congress and other officers and employees of the United States, and for other purposes” — would restrict the printing of copies of the Federal Register only to Members of Congress and Government officials.
What’s even worse, FGI sources say that Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) is set to propose an amendment to HR 195 that would eliminate the printing not only of the Federal Register, but of copies of congressional hearings, committee reports, and bills, resolutions, and amendments in both the Senate and the House.
If enacted, the amendment would prohibit the printing of these legislative documents for the use of both the Senate and the House. The dollar value of hearings, reports, and bills represents approximately 33%, or $26.3 million, of GPO’s total Congressional Publishing Appropriation of $78.5 million for FY 2018. As a result, the amendment would increase the cost of other congressional printing that remains with GPO, since GPO’s mandatory overhead costs — such as its Office of the Inspector General, police security, and other costs, which will still have to be recovered — will have to be spread over a smaller revenue base.
FDLP libraries needing access to print copies of hearings, reports, and bills for their patrons, including those in Missouri, won’t get them automatically anymore. Instead, the FDLP will have to requisition their printing, and the program will have to absorb all printing costs, which will result in a reduction of other services unless the appropriation for the Public Information Programs of the Superintendent of Documents is increased.
CONTACT SENATOR MCCASKILL NOW AND TELL HER TO KILL HER AMENDMENT AND VOTE NO! ON HR 195. And if you’re not from Missouri, please contact your Senators, ESPECIALLY those on the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs!!
There was some very positive discussion about Title 44, Chapter 19 at last week’s DLC meeting. And nearly 1000 people have signed our petition in support of Title 44 and the FDLP (have you?!). But the FDLP community needs to be vigilant that positive FDLP updates to title 44 Chapter 19 do not provide cover for damaging movements of privatization and commercialization of govt information provision and GPO funding in other parts of title 44. Budgetary and operational impacts on GPO other than on chapter 19 — like HR 195! — can directly affect the FDLP program, libraries and public access just the same.
For all you documents nerds out there, the Committee on House Administration’s hearing on GPO and the FDLP is now available for your viewing pleasure. All of the witnesses’ written testimonies are now also available from the Committee’s repository. I’m glad that the FDLP community was able to represent. Enjoy!
Be sure to tune in this coming Tuesday for the Committee on House Administration’s hearing on Title 44 and the FDLP. It looks like it’ll be streaming from CHA’s Website. And if you haven’t yet done so, please sign our petition “Protect the public right to government information: help preserve and expand Title 44.” We’re at 779 signatures, which is pretty amazing considering the wonky nature of this petition. Keep it going!!
Tuesday, September 26, 2017
10:15 a.m. (eastern)
1310 Longworth House Office Building
Transforming GPO for the 21st Century and Beyond: Part 3 – Federal Depository Library Program
- Ms. Laurie Hall, Acting Superintendent of Documents, Government Publishing Office
- Mr. Mike Furlough, Executive Director, HathiTrust Digital Library
- Ms. Celina McDonald, Government Documents & Criminology Librarian, University of Maryland
- Ms. Beth Williams, Library Director, Stanford Law School
- Mr. Stephen Parks, State Librarian of Mississippi
Threats and opportunities re Title 44. FGI audio & DLF, Harvard, MIT libraries’ letters in support of FGI recommendations
The Digital Library Federation’s Records Transparency and Accountability Group hosted FGI’er Jim Jacobs on August 18, 2017 to present about the threats to Title 44. They just posted the audio of Jim’s session on the DLF blog. Jim outlines the issues clearly and concisely, and makes an outstanding case for positive substantive changes to Title 44 based on the following 4 principles:
- The law should ensure the privacy of users of government info.
- The law should address the long-term preservation challenges posed by born-digital government information.
- The law should protect free access and free use.
- The law should modernize the scope of government information covered by chapter 19 for the digital age.
I was also pleased to read that the DLF was about to send a letter in support of Title 44 based on Stanford UL Michael Keller’s letter. Along with Stanford, several other large academic libraries have now weighed in: The University librarians at the 11 University of California campuses, Harvard University and MIT Libraries are now on record in support of title 44 changes based on these same principles!
I hope these letters show how much the library community supports the FDLP and helps our library associations make the case for the need for better access to and preservation of govt information via a positive update of Title 44. We still need many more library directors to write letters in support to the Committee on house Administration and the Joint Committee on Printing.
BTW, our petition “Protect the public right to government information: help preserve and expand Title 44” is at 695 signatures and still climbing! Help us get to 1000 signatures!!
As many of our readers know, there has recently been a lot of activity surrounding efforts to modify title 44 of the US Code. YOU can make your voice heard by signing the petition “Protect the public right to govt information: help preserve and expand Title 44”.
Signatures will go directly to staffers on the House Committee on Administration and Joint Committee on Printing, as well as to GPO and ALA Washington Office. Please share widely on your social media.
We need lots of support in order to assure that any changes to Title 44 support and expand preservation of and access to government information. For more background on what’s at stake, please see our post Strengthening the Discussions about Title 44.
The public’s right to information by and about its government is critical to the workings of a democracy. Title 44 of the US Code, which codifies the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) into law, is the *only* legal guarantee that the US government will provide its information for free to the General Public, the citizens of the USA. It also directly affects thousands of non-Federal Depository Library Program libraries by defining free public access to the essential information and records of our democracy.
A push to revise Title 44 is in the works led by the Government Publishing Office and the Committee on House Administration. Government Publishing Office Director Davita Vance-Cooks has asked the Depository Library Council (DLC) to gather recommendations from the depository community for changes to Chapter 19 of Title 44 of the U.S. Code.
We the undersigned write today to assure that any changes to the law strengthen the FDLP and free public access to and preservation of government information regardless of physical or digital format.