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.

GPO and NOAA Partner To Increase Permanent Public Access To NOAA Publications

GPO recently announced that it had entered into a partnership with NOAA to catalog 47,000+ NOAA documents to the Catalog of Government Publications (CGP) and add permanent URLs (PURLs) in those records to NOAA’s digital repository.

FGI wholeheartedly supports this effort especially given that executive branch documents are woefully lacking in the National Collection of U.S. Government Public Information. We hope that this effort will spur other executive agencies to work with GPO to expand the National Collection for greater public access to and preservation of important US government publications.

If you want to read more about the history of “unreported” documents, please see my article “’Issued for Gratuitous Distribution’: The History of Fugitive Documents and the FDLP” to learn more about the historic difficulties with collecting, cataloging, and distributing executive branch agency documents in the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP).

U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Central Library is working to add more than 47,000 unique items published by NOAA authors and grantees to the National Collection of U.S. Government Public Information. GPO shares NOAA’s goal of providing additional avenues to access Government research and making these documents more discoverable to the public. GPO will add the NOAA Institutional Repository (IR) to the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP) and create permanent URLs, ensuring documents in NOAA’s IR are available digitally for permanent public access….

…Items that will be added to the National Collection and digitally preserved date back to 1970, the year NOAA was founded. They include NOAA’s reports to Congress, strategic and policy documents, white papers, conference proceedings, Federally-funded scholarly research, and more. While many of these items have historically been available in print formats at Federal depository libraries, they will now be available digitally through the CGP for easier and wider access.

Items the public may find particularly interesting from this collection are:

Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act (Weather Act) Collection, including documents describing efforts to improve hurricane, tornado, tsunami, and subseasonal to seasonal forecasting
Endangered Species Act Section 7 Biological Opinions
Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Restoration Collection, with documents related to NOAA’s response and restoration work in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill NOAA Annual Science Report

Down a few rabbit holes in search for a historic pamphlet on Fascism

I went down a little rabbit hole today and thought I’d share since it’s a good representation of some of the issues we face in the library government information world.

It all started innocently enough with my daily substack missive from Heather Cox Richardson’s “Letters from an American” (May 29, 2023) — if you haven’t subscribed to her essay, you’re missing out. She’s amazing at putting current events into historical context! Go subscribe NOW!)

Beginning in 1943, the War Department published a series of pamphlets for U.S. Army personnel in the European theater of World War II. Titled Army Talks, the series was designed “to help [the personnel] become better-informed men and women and therefore better soldiers.”

On March 24, 1945, the topic for the week was “FASCISM!”

She had me from the first sentence! I thought, this is SO relevant to today’s political situation. So of course I went to her footnotes (she ALWAYS cites what she writes!!) and noticed that for “Army Talk Orientation Fact Sheet #64 – Fascism!” she had linked to the Internet Archive. No harm in that, but I wondered to myself why she hadn’t linked to a .gov repository. Here’s where things went a little sideways.


Law Library of Congress deposits their legal reports in HeinOnline

According to a new post on the Law Library of Congress In Custodia Legis blog, the Law Library of Congress Legal Reports are now being made available on the subscription legal database HeinOnline. They state that they will continue to publish these important historical legal reports on their law.gov site. There are currently 4072 reports on law.gov.

Please note that HeinOnline is a subscription database — and one to which my library has long subscribed and for good reason! — so these law reports are only freely available via the LOC site. I hope the Law Library will continue to make their legal reports freely available via law.gov. It would be a travesty if these public domain legal reports were sequestered behind a subscription pay wall thus taking them out of the public domain for all intents and purposes.

The benefit of having them on HeinOnline is that researchers with institutional access to Hein can find LOC legal reports within a wider corpus of legal materials including case law, law reviews, US code, US Serial Set, international resources and a whole host of other special and specialized legal collections. HeinOnline also makes bibliographic records available so that libraries can include those materials in their library catalogs. But that benefit does not extend to the general public — unless the general public were to go into an Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) library near them (many if not all of the academic and legal libraries who are FDLP members will also subscribe to HeinOnline and allow on-site access to their subscription databases 😉 ).

Among the many resources that the Law Library is renowned for is the preparation of legal reports on foreign, comparative, and international law topics. As we continue to publish contemporary and historical legal reports on law.gov on a weekly basis, the Law Library of Congress is proud to announce that our legal reports will now also be accessible via HeinOnline. These reports are written by foreign law specialists at the Law Library and cover 300+ jurisdictions, addressing specific legal issues in a particular country or providing a comparative analysis of legal and legislative approaches to an individual problem across a multitude of countries. They are often written in response to requests from Congress or executive branch agencies and may be cited as expert resources. Some of the reports on the Law Library’s website date back to the 1940s, providing a historical glimpse into important legal questions from that time.

To access the Law Library of Congress Legal Reports when visiting HeinOnline, you can simply search “Law Library of Congress Legal Reports,” or browse the databases by name where the Law Library of Congress is currently at the bottom of the left column … The oldest law report in the collection was published in 1911, and there are currently 4,000 legal reports published by the Law Library of Congress on HeinOnline.

Impact of the 2022 OSTP memo: A bibliometric analysis of US federally funded publications, 2017–2021

On August 25, 2022, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released a memo (“Ensuring Free, Immediate, and Equitable Access to Federally Funded Research” or the “Nelson Memo” after OSTP director Alondra Nelson *) regarding public access to scientific research. This updated guidance eliminated the 12-month embargo period on publications arising from U.S. federal funding that had been allowed from a previous 2013 OSTP memo (citation: Holdren, J. (2013). Increasing access to the results of federally funded scientific research (notice the obamawhitehouse.archives.gov url 😉 ).

Using the Nelson memo as a jumping off place, Eric Schares, the Engineering & Collection Analysis Librarian at Iowa State University, did some very interesting analysis on the characteristics of US federally funded research for the period 2017 – 2021. He also helpfully made interactive versions of the graphs available at https://ostp.lib.iastate.edu/. This article was published open access, so it should be freely available at https://doi.org/10.1162/qss_a_00237.

Citation: Eric Schares; Impact of the 2022 OSTP memo: A bibliometric analysis of US federally funded publications, 2017–2021. Quantitative Science Studies 2023; 4 (1): 1–21. doi: https://doi.org/10.1162/qss_a_00237

This study seeks to more deeply investigate the characteristics of U.S. federally funded research over a 5-year period from 2017–2021 to better understand the updated guidance’s impact. It uses a manually created custom filter in the Dimensions database to return only publications that arise from U.S. federal funding. Results show that an average of 265,000 articles were published each year that acknowledge US federal funding agencies, and these research outputs are further examined by publisher, journal title, institutions, and Open Access status. Interactive versions of the graphs are available at https://ostp.lib.iastate.edu/.

*Here is the archived link to the Nelson memo archived in the wayback machine because the base domain will change from whitehouse.gov to bidenwhitehouse.archives.gov at the end of the Biden administration.

ProPublica report shows long-standing ethics violations of Justice Thomas

A new bombshell report by ProPublica entitled “Clarence Thomas and the Billionaire” claims that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has long accepted but not reported lavish gifts of travel and lodging from a Republican megadonor named Harlan Crow.

According to this 2022 Congressional Research Service (CRS) report entitled “A Code of Conduct for the Supreme Court? Legal Questions and Considerations,” Supreme Court Justices are not held to the same ethics rules and standards compared to judges at other levels of the federal judiciary. But they are supposed to submit submit financial disclosures. Justice Thomas seems to have flaunted those minuscule ethics rules. His actions have repeatedly shown in recent years that perhaps there needs to be more strict ethics rules – and consequences! – for Supreme Court justices.