Washington Brief - June 1999

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Dateline: April 23, 1999

Policy Program Highlights for the July '99 Annual Meeting
Our Washington location has provided us with the unique opportunity to mine our Capital's information gurus and to expand the policy content of our 92nd Annual Meeting. Here are just a few of the key highlights that you won't want to miss, including our first ever AALL Legislative Day!

 

  • W-2 Law Librarians Meet the 106th Congress: AALL Advocacy Training and Legislative Day. We've capped attendance at 100, so register today to make the halls of Congress resound with the proud voices of law librarians on Friday, July 16, 1999.
  • B-3 Legislative and Regulatory Update. The annual GRC program highlighting the activities of our Washington Affairs Representatives will feature guest speaker Jonathan Band of Morrison & Foerster to discuss some "hot" intellectual property issues.
  • C-3 Cyber Congress: Its Future and the Public Interest. Learn about the latest proposals to improve public access to congressional materials through the Internet.
  • Plenary Session 2. Don't miss this lively debate between Pat Schroeder, President and CEO of the Association of American Publishers, James Neal, Director of Libraries at Johns Hopkins University, and the Honorable Rick Boucher (D-VA) on issues ranging from copyright and database protection to access to government information and the public's right to know.
  • D-5 Shared Efforts: Library Associations and Consumer Groups Working Together to Affect the Law. Learn more about our coalition activities with representatives from the Shared Legal Capability, the Digital Future Coalition and the Inter-Association Working Group on Government Information Policy (IAWG).
  • E-5 and F-5 Title 44 Reform: The GPO and the FDLP at the Crossroads of the New Millennium. Top level officials representing all three branches of government will discuss information access and dissemination, and will debate the new draft Title 44 legislation.
  • I-5 Information Policy at the Crossroads: The Challenge of Globalization. Harmonization in copyright law and database protection are driving the U.S. legislative agenda�hear how it all fits together.
  • K-4 Federal Information Policy and Agency Recordkeeping: Debating the Preservation of and Access to Agency Electronic Records. The challenges of preserving digital agency records will be debated by representatives from NARA and the public interest community.

New Title 44 Discussion Draft
The Inter-Associations Working Group on Government Information Policy has completed its work and is being formally disbanded. Nonetheless, building on our cooperative legislative efforts during the 105th Congress that were included in S. 2288, the omnibus "Wendell H. Ford Government Publications Reform Act of 1998," a handful of us has continued to work together to develop a new discussion draft bill. Our strategy for the 106th Congress has changed somewhat. We have moved away from the more comprehensive chapter 19 approach used last year to draft legislation that would repeal and amend chapter 41, the GPO Electronic Information Access Enhancement Act (P.L. 103- 40) that established the GPO Access system.

The new draft legislation provides an incremental approach to solving two of the most urgent challenges of electronic government information:

 

  1. to broaden, strengthen, and enhance public access to electronic government information, including both tangible and online information products; and,
  2. to provide permanent public access to and ensure authenticity of electronic government information.

I will be working closely with other library associations and coalition partners to find congressional sponsors for the "Next Generation Electronic Government Information Access Act of 1999" (whatsnew042299.asp). Your help is needed, though, and I invite you to join us for the first AALL Advocacy Training and Legislative Day scheduled for Friday, July 16, 1999, since this will be among our top legislative priorities.

1999 FDLP Spring Conference/Depository Library Council
More than 550 government documents librarians, including a record 66 from law libraries, met in Washington the week of April 12th for the annual Spring Federal Depository Library Conference and meetings of the Depository Library Council (DLC). Morning plenary sessions included GPO updates on their progress in developing the FDLP Electronic Collection; on cataloging and locator issues; and on developing more partnership models to ensure permanent public access to agency electronic information. If you missed the conference, some GPO handouts are in the April 15, 1999 issue of Administrative Notes at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/dpos/ad041599.html. The conference agenda was jam-packed with excellent informational and training programs. As a Council member, I was involved in debating and drafting thirteen new recommendations to the Public Printer on a wide range of issues: fee-based products, outreach to federal agencies, the partnership program, a permanent public access archive, and guidelines for substituting electronic for tangible versions of publications. Twenty-eight AALL members met for our traditional Tuesday evening dinner, giving us all an opportunity to share experiences and concerns about the electronic FDLP, to network, and to spend an enjoyable evening together.

GPO/NCLIS Assessment Report Published
GPO and the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science (NCLIS) have just released the long-awaited Report on the Assessment of Electronic Government Information Products (http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/nclisassessment/report.html) commissioned by GPO and prepared by Westat, Inc. under a contract from NCLIS. AALL had been involved in trying to get the necessary congressional approval and funding for this survey since 1995, when we first lobbied Joint Committee on Printing Chairman Bill Thomas to make the survey part of the 1996 GPO Study on the Transition to a More Electronic FDLP. Funding was finally approved in 1997, and I have participated since then, as a Depository Library Council member, in meetings to plan the assessment study and survey instrument; to recommend titles to be surveyed, ensuring early on that the judiciary would be invited to participate in the assessment; and to review several pre-publication drafts.

Thanks to the tremendous efforts of NCLIS survey coordinator Woody Horton, an impressive 74% of the surveys were returned from twenty-four federal entities, including Congressional committees, the Supreme Court, one regulatory commission and 19 executive branch agencies. While the survey data is very interesting in terms of issues such as preferred mediums and formats used by agencies, Horton was quick to point out that the survey process was as revealing as are the results. Indeed, the two most notable of the sixteen key findings should come as no surprise: first, "there is an overall lack of government information policy guiding electronic publishing, dissemination, permanent public access, or the information life cycle management" that is apparent at the branch and agency levels; and second, "that responsibility for electronic publishing within agencies is decentralized, diffuse and unclear." NCLIS is planning to begin Phase III of the study this summer to analyze the findings, draw conclusions and make recommendations from the survey.

 

Mary Alice Baish
Associate Washington Affairs Representative
Edward B. WIlliams Law Library
111 G Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20001-1417
202/662-9200 * FAX:202/662-9202
email:baish@law.georgetown.edu