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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.

Workshop: Providing Social Science Data Services: Strategies for Design and Operation

Announcement of Workshop:
Providing Social Science Data Services: Strategies for Design and Operation
August 9-13, 2010
Ann Arbor Michigan

Chuck Humphrey, Head of the Data Library, University of Alberta
Jim Jacobs, Data Services Librarian Emeritus, University of California San Diego

This five-day workshop is being offered for individuals who manage or provide local support services for ICPSR and other numeric data for quantitative research.

Providing access to data has taken on greater prominence over this past decade with the emergence of several significant developments, including, e-Science infrastructure funding, the open data movement, national and institutional digital preservation strategies & services, data enclaves for confidential data, lifecycle data management planning, and data mash-up technologies on the Internet. Given these major environmental changes, how does one plan and design appropriate levels of data service in her or his local institution?

This workshop is structured around a five-stage data lifecycle model that focuses on data production, data dissemination, data repositories, data discovery and data repurposing. A day is dedicated to each stage in this model during which discussions address issues for local data services and computer exercises demonstrate service activities. In this context, fundamental data topics are covered, including understanding the data reference interview, working with variables, interpreting data documentation, coping with various dissemination formats, accessing different online services (e.g., SDA and Nesstar), searching for social science data, subsetting data using Web-based tools, selecting and downloading ICPSR data, and options for local data delivery. Throughout the workshop, an emphasis will be placed on social science concepts and terminology, as well as on practical solutions to service delivery.

Who Should Attend: Anyone who is new to providing services for numeric social science data or is seeking to revitalize an existing service. This is not a course in statistics and attendees are not expected to know how to analyze data.

Online Registration:

Workshop will remain open only until the Summer Program office has received 20 paid applications.

If you have questions about registration, fees, travel, housing, or other courses at the ICPSR Summer program, please get in touch with ICPSR directly:

If you have any questions about the workshop content, please feel free
to send email to Chuck or Jim:

Chuck: humphrey at datalib.library.ualberta.ca
Jim: jajacobs at ucsd.edu

Dates: August 9-13, 2010
Location: University of Michigan, Ann Arbor MI.
Fees (Participants from ICPSR member institutions): $1,500
Fees (Participants from institutions that are not members of ICPSR): $3,000

List of ICPSR member institutions and Official Representatives:

Information about transportation and housing:

This workshop is part of the ICPSR Summer Program in Quantitative Methods of Social Research

James A. Jacobs
jajacobs at ucsd.edu

Govt transparency workshop to be held in January at Princeton

The Princeton Center for Information Technology Policy (CITP) will host a 2-day workshop Open Government: Defining, Designing, and Sustaining Transparency at Princeton U, Jan 21-22, 2010. Along with a wide-ranging discussion on transparency, there will be a session on friday on the proposed law.gov registry and repository. I hope lots of people in the Princeton area will attend (FYI, there will be a law.gov symposium at Stanford on January 12, 2010. More to come).

Day 1: Thursday January 21 (9am – 5pm)

Defining Transparency:
This session will aim to take a critical look at what government transparency means. Some of the questions the panel will consider are: What do people mean when they use these terms? Are open government and government transparency a means or an end? What are the boundaries and tensions involved with different conceptions? What is the history of the use of these concepts and what are various flavors of transparency?

Designing Transparency:
This session seeks to take a deep look into architecting systems such that they support open government and transparency. Some fo the questions the panel will consider include: How do we design systems, infrastructures and processes to support transparency? Is transparency a value like security, privacy and usability that must be designed into systems from the beginning? If so, how do we include transparency into policy and technical processes? Are there still effective ways to make existing systems more transparent without ineffectively “bolting on” transparency support after policies and systems are fielded?

Sustaining Transparency:
We’d like to think that open government and transparency are not “fads” or “trends” that could disappear. It seems that now is the time to think deeply about how open government and transparency can sustain. Can we measure how open or transparent government is, such that we would notice any adverse downturns? How do we ensure that transparency is a value that outlasts changes in political winds? In addition to making data available on an ongoing basis, what are strategies for sustainable transparency? How do we educate the public to recognize the value of open government and demand transparency of governmental systems? How much of this can we control and what strategies can we conceptualize that will result in obvious public interest value to bolster open government?

Breakfast (8:30am – 9am)

Day 2: Friday January 22 (9am – 12:30pm)

Law.gov Session:
Access to primary legal materials in the United States is the subject of this session. We’ll discuss current provision of these materials by the Federal and State governments through government systems (such as the GPO’s FDSys and the Judiciary’s PACER system), through commercial providers such as Lexis and West, and various alternatives that have sprung up in both the private sector and from nongovernmental organizations such as Public.Resource, Altlaw, and the RECAP project. In addition to examining the current situation for access to materials, this session will include discussion of the Law.Gov effort, a year-long effort to document detailed specifications that would enable the Federal and then state and local governments to provide a distributed, open source, authenticated registry and repository for primary legal materials. Similar in spirit to the Data.Gov system recently launched, the Law.Gov effort includes a series of workshops at ten major law schools in early 2010.

Engaging Tinkerers:
The availability of data sources and access to government agencies are only a first step in projects involving open government and governmental transparency. The next step is matching the supply of such projects with demand for working on such projects. Tinkerers–those that would create systems that use data from and increased access to government systems–and governmental suppliers need to coordinate in some fashion to best realize project-based open government efforts. What are mechanisms that might match governmental supply of data and access to these tinkerers in an efficient manner? Would a mini-CFP system work, where tinkerers would be on a distribution list that governmental actors could post opportunities for project-based open government work and then decide which projects to work with? Are there legal barriers to such organization? Does it even make sense to “launch” such data sets and access opportunities with projects that benefited from exclusive access before a public launch?

[Originally tweeted by rschon. Thanks for the tip!]