ARCHIVED: Public Access to Government Information - July 1999

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"If we are to guard against ignorance and remain free, it is the responsibility of every American to be informed"--Thomas Jefferson (1816)



  1. The public's right to access government information is the cornerstone of our democratic society, and we ask you to reaffirm the following principles:
    Principle 1: The Public has the Right to Access Government Information.
    Principle 2: The Government Has an Obligation to Disseminate and Provide Broad Public Access to Its Information.
    Principle 3: The Government Has an Affirmative Obligation to Guarantee the Authenticity and Integrity of Its Information.
    Principle 4: The Government has an Obligation to Preserve Its Information.
    Principle 5: Government Information Created or Compiled by Government
    Employees or at Government Expense Should Remain in the Public Domain.


  2. House and Senate conferees are meeting this month to reach agreement on H.R. 1905, the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act for FY 2000. Both House and Senate have agreed to fund the Superintendent of Documents Salaries and Expenses for the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) at $29.9 million (H. Rept. 106-156). This is a reduction from the $31.2 million requested by the Government Printing Office. Please support the $29.9 million that funds our nation's 1,400 depository libraries and do not allow further decreases that will negatively effect public access through the depository library program.


  3. AALL and the other national library associations have been working with Congress to ensure that all three branches of government, while moving towards electronic dissemination of their information through the Internet, recognize the challenge that the public has in locating electronic products and the responsibility that the government has in ensuring that electronic products remain permanently available to the public. The Next Generation Electronic Government Information Access Act of 1999, our new draft legislation, provides the necessary government wide framework to solve these challenges. We urge you to ensure that the government fulfills its responsibilities by supporting this critically important public access legislative initiative.


  4. AALL has been working with other non-profit and Right-to-Know organizations to ensure that the Environment Protection Agency complies with the public access provisions of the Clean Air Act of 1990 in releasing the Risk Management Plans (RMPs) of U.S. chemical companies. S. 880 and H.R. 1790, as passed in the Senate and under consideration in the House, would exempt hazardous information, called "worst-case scenario" (WCS) data, from FOIA and would severely restrict the public's access to this important safety and health information. The FBI claims, with no evidence to support it, that release of WCS data will create a national security threat. Oppose these efforts to restrict public access and the public's right to know.