ARCHIVED: Letter Transmitting the Revised "Federal Information Access Act of 1997"

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December 19, 1997

The Honorable John W. Warner, Chairman
Committee on Rules and Administration
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senator Warner:

On behalf of the seven member organizations of the Inter- Association Working Group on Government Information Policy (IAWG), we are pleased to transmit to you the library community's revised legislative proposal to amend chapter 19 of U.S.C. Title 44.

This draft bill is a revision of the earlier proposal sent to you in June. This revision reflects changes identified by the IAWG that have emerged from discussions and developments over the past six months. Specifically, this draft:

  • revises the definitions included in the bill,
  • strengthens the compliance and enforcement provisions of the bill,
  • allows for more flexibility in the designation process to serve underserved areas,
  • incorporates the government information locator service (GILS) in the responsibilities of the Superintendent of Documents, and
  • provides for a transition period that accounts for the permanent public access of online electronic information.

Like the original IAWG proposal sent to you in June, this revised bill incorporates a set of key goals for revising U.S.C. Title 44 to enhance public access to federal government information. These goals are:

GOAL 1: The law must broaden, strengthen, and enhance public access to all forms of government information.

GOAL 2: The law must strengthen the role of the Superintendent of Documents and the Federal Depository Library Program in providing public access to government information.

GOAL 3: The law must establish the affirmative responsibility of the federal government to preserve and provide permanent public access to its information, and to develop regulations and guidelines to ensure the authenticity of government information.

We strongly support your resolve to introduce legislation in the 105th Congress to address the deficiencies in the current law and to enhance public access to federal government information. We greatly appreciate this chance to convey our revised legislative proposal to you, and the ongoing opportunities you and congressional staff have provided for input and discussion. We especially are grateful for the willingness of Eric Peterson, Staff Director of the Joint Committee on Printing, and Kennie Gill, Minority Staff Director and Chief Counsel of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, to meet with members of the American Library Association at the upcoming ALA conference in January, and the opportunity this will provide for the librarians in attendance to discuss these important issues directly with Mr. Peterson and Ms. Gill.

We look forward to your comments and to our continued collaboration and dialog on these important issues. Thank you very much.


Daniel P. O'Mahony
Inter-Association Working Group on Government Information Policy


Enclosure: "Federal Information Access Act of 1997, " December 18, 1997 [PDF]