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.

small business pulse survey (Census)

“The experimental Small Business Pulse Survey (Business Pulse) measures the changes in business conditions on our nation’s small businesses during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.”
https://www.census.gov/data/experimental-data-products/small-business-pulse-survey.html

GPO will catalog/archive.

co-published on govdoc-l and freegovinfo.info.

Congressional Research Service (CRS) releases report on Congressionally Mandated Reports

Wow, the FirstBranchForecast was on fire this week (as it is most weeks!), announcing a new bill to protect Inspectors General, talking about the just-released FOIA Advisory Committee’s draft report available for public comment (submit yours via email to foia-advisory-committee@nara.gov through June 2), and also highlighting a new CRS report Congressionally Mandated Reports: Overview and Considerations for Congress that contextualizes the issues surrounding H.R.736 – Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act. This bill, if passed, would require the Government Publishing Office (GPO) to establish and maintain a publicly available online portal containing copies of all congressionally mandated reports — 3500-4000 of them, many of them listed in House Document 116-4 Reports to be made to Congress (this is a document published annually by the Clerk of the House!). This would be a boon to the FDLP as it would fill many of the fugitive gaps in the national collection.

Thanks as always FirstBranchForecast!

Congressionally Mandated Reports was the topic of a new CRS report “on the potential benefits and challenges of reporting requirements,” which also “analyzes a number of statutory reporting requirements enacted during the 115th Congress.” The report also mentions legislation that would improve congressional access to mandated reports, the Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act, which has passed the House and is pending in the Senate, saying (as part of a longer analysis): “Establishing a centralized, public repository for congressionally mandated reports may address a number of concerns related to the reporting process.”

via Forecast for May 26, 2020 – First Branch Forecast.

With Inspectors General firings in the news, Congress introduces bill to protect them

Inspectors General are a little known unit within many federal agencies. They were set up in the 1970s to “identify waste, fraud, and abuse in the federal government.” Their reports can be found on Oversight.gov as well as the non-governmental website Oversight.garden (there is some duplication between the sites, but the garden also posts some unreleased IG reports). Though IG reports fall within the scope of the FDLP, many of these reports have historically fallen through the cracks — they’re a goldmine of fugitive documents for anyone interested in reporting them to GPO to collect and catalog, but that’s a whole other story.

While these offices normally conduct independent audits and investigations and make recommendations to fix waste, fraud and abuse well below the radar of the public, lately they’ve been in the news as the Trump Administration has fired or sidelined several IGs for highly political reasons — notably including the Intelligence Community IG, the State Department IG, the Acting Transportation Department IG, the Acting Health and Human Services IG, and the Acting Pentagon IG who was chosen to serve as the head of the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee created by Congress on March 27, 2020.

The administration’s actions has brought Congress — historically very supportive of IGs — to a boiling point, with a new bill introduced H.R. 6668: Inspectors General Independence Act of 2020 to “amend the Inspector General Act of 1978 to require removal for cause of Inspectors General, and for other purposes.” This is surely an issue which every depository librarian will want to keep an eye on.

To learn more about these little known but important internal watchdogs embedded in many executive agencies, check out this report by the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) entitled “THE WATCHDOGS AFTER FORTY YEARS: Recommendations for Our Nation’s Federal Inspectors General” (published July 9, 2018). POGO also more recently produced the really informative youtube video below.

HT to FirstBranchForecast! Everyone should subscribe to this amazing newsletter.

OSC announcement : dr Bright

A librarian contacted the Office of Special Counsel to ask if they would be making public its determination on their website or in some form of a publication that Dr. Bright’s superiors inappropriately removed him from his position as reported in the news. Their response was that they could neither confirm nor deny since it is an ongoing investigation.

According to Newsweek, Bright’s lawyers announced that the OSC informed them that Health and Human Services violated the Whistleblower Protection Act by ousting Dr. Bright.

FEDERAL WATCHDOG RECOMMENDS VACCINE EXPERT AND CORONAVIRUS WHISTLEBLOWER RICK BRIGHT BE REINSTATED DAYS BEFORE TESTIMONY SET TO BEGIN

Origins of the COVID19 Virus

Lately the President and Secretary Pompeo are arguing in the media that China purposely created the COVID19 as a weapon. There are no formal statements at the Whitehouse or State Department websites. The DNI has issued a statement at its website, and GPO has agreed to catalog the news release for its historical value. Times’ journalists reported that the Administration’s strategy is to blame China as a political strategy to divert the public’s attention from its handling of COVID19 outbreak in the U.S.

Recently the Trump Says China May Be ‘Knowingly Responsible’ for Virus By Mario Parker April 18, 2020, 4:10 PM PDT Updated on April 20, 2020, 1:15 AM PDT
‘President Donald Trump raised the prospect that China deliberately caused the Covid-19 outbreak that’s killed over 39,000 Americans and said there should be consequences if the country is found to be “knowingly responsible.”‘
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-04-18/trump-suggests-china-may-be-knowingly-responsible-for-virus

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, ODNI News Release No. 11-20, April 30, 2020 Intelligence Community Statement on Origins of COVID-19 WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Office of the Director of National Intelligence today issued the following Intelligence Community (IC) statement:
“The entire Intelligence Community has been consistently providing critical support to U.S. policymakers and those responding to the COVID-19 virus, which originated in China. The Intelligence Community also concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not manmade or genetically modified. As we do in all crises, the Community’s experts respond by surging resources and producing critical intelligence on issues vital to U.S. national security. The IC will continue to rigorously examine emerging information and intelligence to determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan.”
https://www.dni.gov/index.php/newsroom/press-releases/item/2112-intelligence-community-statement-on-origins-of-covid-19

G.O.P. Aiming To Make China The Scapegoat: [Foreign Desk] Martin, Jonathan; Haberman, Maggie. New York Times, Late Edition (East Coast); New York, N.Y. [New York, N.Y]19 Apr 2020: A.1.
“The strategy could not be clearer: From the Republican lawmakers blanketing Fox News to new ads from President Trump’s super PAC to the biting criticism on Donald Trump Jr.’s Twitter feed, the G.O.P. is attempting to divert attention from the administration’s heavily criticized response to the coronavirus by pinning the blame on China. With the death toll from the pandemic already surpassing 34,000 Americans and unemployment soaring to levels not seen since the Great Depression, Republicans increasingly believe that elevating China as an archenemy culpable for the spread of the virus, and harnessing America’s growing animosity toward Beijing, may be the best way to salvage a difficult election” https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/18/us/politics/trump-china-virus.html

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