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Our mission

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.

Government Tech Agency 18F in Decline

Fedscoop reports that 18F, an office within the General Services Administration (GSA) tasked with improving how the government delivers services to the public, has less than half the employees it had 18 months ago.

Virtually all this attrition is likely voluntary and much of it includes senior staff.

[I]t is notable that the Trump administration has either been unable or unwilling to recruit large numbers of technologists to serve. Even today, 18F is not hiring. This means that virtually the entire staff, who are hired for two-year terms with an option to extend for a second term, will be gone before Trump’s first term is over.

Some of this decline may be a result of an erosion of support for its mission. From its inception, detractors both inside and outside of government, have argued that 18F unfairly competes with the private sector. Part of this objection arises from the fact that 18F does not have its own appropriated budget, but rather funds itself through cost-recovery from its work for other agencies.

OSTP has a Blog

The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) now has its on blog, “a place where you can learn about and have real input into the policymaking process as it relates to science and technology.”


And, yes, there is an RSS/ATOM feed!

Now we have a CTO too!

The Obama administration broke new ground by appointing a Chief Information Officer (See: CIO2.0 – White House Names “First Federal Chief Information Officer). Now, President Obama has appointed Virginia Secretary of Technology Aneesh Chopra to serve as the nation’s first Chief Technology Officer.

Another example of a step backward

One of the things we worry about at FGI is how technology that could be opening up information access is too often used to reduce access. Amazon.com’s Kindle e-book reader is a completely proprietary device. You can’t buy a “Kindle” book and loan it or re-sell it or give it away or read it on any device except on one Kindle. Amazon even charges you to convert PDFs into the Kindle format (or so I have heard). It also has a nice feature that allows text to be vocalized — great for the blind, but not a replacement for audiobook performances read by professionals. But the Author’s Guild sees this as a threat and Amazon, while claiming (rightly, I think) that the feature is legal, is nevertheless willing to disable text-to-speech on a title-by-title basis at the rightsholder’s request.

More here:

Caving into bullies (aka, here we go again), Lawrence Lessig, February 28, 2009.

Horizon Report 2009

The 2009 edition of the Horizon Report is now available:

Background: NMC Releases 2009 Horizon Report, by NMC, January 20th, 2009.

The annual Horizon Report describes the continuing work of the NMC’s Horizon Project, a research-oriented effort that seeks to identify and describe emerging technologies likely to have considerable impact on teaching, learning, and creative expression within higher education. A collaboration between the NMC and ELI, the 2009 Horizon Report is the sixth in the annual series….

In defining the six selected areas for 2009 — mobile devices, cloud computing, geo-everything, the personal web, semantic-aware applications, and smart objects — the project tapped into an ongoing discussion among knowledgeable individuals in business, industry, and education, as well as published resources, current research and practice, and the expertise of the NMC and ELI communities.