AALL eBriefing / Access to Information Joint Letter Issued Yesterday

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AALL SIGNS ON TO JOINT LETTER TO PROTECT ACCESS TO GOVERNMENT INFORMATION

Yesterday, the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) partnered with OpenTheGovernment.org and more than 60 other public interest groups and associations on a letter to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), asking OMB to issue guidance reminding agencies that they are required under the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.) to give adequate public notice when making significant changes to information on their websites, including when information is taken down temporarily or removed. The letter comes after weeks of concern expressed by AALL and other organizations about data and other information no longer being accessible on government websites.

The letter stated: 

It is crucial that agencies comply with the law, so that the public does not lose access to vital government information that helps them protect themselves and hold the marketplace and their government accountable. Failure to give adequate notice of removal could mean that years of government work on important issues are effectively lost to the public. Moreover, providing the required notice will assure compliance with the law, smooth transition issues, ensure public participation, calm fears of censorship, and will reduce litigation costs for both the government and the public interest community.

"AALL has a long-standing commitment to ensuring that governments provide reliable access to information. Our Principles and Core Values Concerning Public Information on Government Websites clearly states our belief that information published on government websites should be accessible, comprehensive, trustworthy, and preserved," said AALL President Ronald E. Wheeler Jr.
 
AALL will continue to advocate for agencies' compliance with laws governing access and preservation, and to ensure that government information remains accessible to all.