May 03, 2001
Democratic Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut introduced the E-Government Act of 2001 on May 1, intended to harness the Internet to improve citizen access to electronic government information.
If passed, the bill would create the new position of federal chief information officer and the new Office of Information Policy within the Office of Management and Budget to address the challenges of the electronic environment and federal information dissemination. The federal chief information officer would work with entities both within and outside the Beltway to improve coordination for electronic dissemination; to develop interoperable standards to improve the search capabilities of agency web sites; and to ensure permanent public access to web-based government information. In addition, two key provisions of the bill would improve public access to judicial information by mandating that federal courts develop and maintain comprehensive Web sites and by repealing current statutory language to make the judiciary's electronic PACER system available to the public at no cost.
The American Association of Law Libraries supports the E-Government Act. The proposed legislation falls in line with the association's view that access to government and legal information is a valuable public commodity created at taxpayer expense and a necessary requirement for a just and democratic society. According to the AALL, the federal government is obliged to ensure that government and legal information is authentic and permanently available to the public in an easily accessible and professionally maintained environment, regardless of format. Thus the AALL commends Lieberman for his commitment to this legislation because it will help bring about the goals of a democratic society.
The AALL would also like to thank the bipartisan co-sponsors of the bill: Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont.; Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M.; Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, R-Ill.; Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D.; Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.; Sen. Thomas Carper, D-Del.; Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill.; Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D.; Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.; Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.; and Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich.