Government Information News 2003

15 December
ALA submitted comments on a proposed OMB Bulletin on Peer Review and Information Quality. ALA expressed concern that the effect of this proposed bulletin would be to delay the government's use and dissemination of information.

ALA commented on

  • the proposed further expansion of the possibility for delays in dissemination of information due to challenges to agency compliance with information quality guidelines;
  • the provision that would encourage agencies to conduct their external peer review outside the requirements of the Federal Advisory Committee Act;
  • the scope and content of the proposed external peer review; and
  • the potential disqualification of reviewers who have " in recent years, advocated a position on the specific matter at issue."

a pdf copy of the letter


3 Nov 2003
46 organizations wrote to Representatives Mark Green and Christopher Shays to express their dismay at the discontinuation of the "Index of Congressional Research Service Reports." This service had provided for public access to CRS reports through portals on the two Members' web sites. The Index was a pilot on which the plug has been pulled.

As the taxpayer-funded research arm of Congress, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) provides research materials that are among the best produced by the federal government.They explain, with fairness and clarity, the controversies and complexities surrounding the most pressing issues of our day. While Members have traditionally made individual reports available on an ad hoc basis, CRS has long resisted providing direct public access to these materials, considering them information prepared on the request of and for the use of Members.

A pdf copy of the letter


10 Sep 2003
In a letter [ pdf file] to Members the Committee on House Administration pulled the plug on a pilot program providing public access to a database of Congressional Research Services reports, the "Index of Congressional Research Service Reports." This service had provided for public access to CRS reports through portals on the Members' web sites.

Under the new policy, Members will be able to select the particular CRS reports they wish to offer on their web sites and to provide links to those specific reports, which will be automatically updated.

This arrangement "maintains the direct relationship between Members and their constituents by enabling Members to learn directly of constituent concerns, and by providing constituents with information that Members personally deem useful," according to the letter, and this " modified approach also preserves the principle of selective dissemination and avoids legal and institutional dangers posed by wholesale publication of CRS products."

As the taxpayer-funded research arm of Congress, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) provides research materials that are among the best produced by the federal government.They explain, with fairness and clarity, the controversies and complexities surrounding the most pressing issues of our day. While Members have traditionally made individual reports available on an ad hoc basis, CRS has long resisted providing direct public access to these materials, considering them information prepared on the request of and for the use of Members. Another congressional agency, the General Accounting Office (GAO) routinely makes virtually all of its reports directly available to the public, although they, too, are done in response to requests from Members.

The Washington Office is looking into how many, if any, offices are availing themselves of the new "service" and what they have selected as the products "that are most suitable and appropriate for accesss by their constituents" (as the letter puts it).

On November 11, 2003, 59 organizations and 3 individuals wrote to Representatives Mark Green and Christopher Shays to express their dismay at the discontinuation of the "Index of Congressional Research Service Reports."


26 Aug 2003 
Seventy-five organizations representing librarians, journalists, scientists, environmental groups, privacy advocates, and others sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge calling on the Department of Homeland Security to allow public input on procedures for "safeguarding" and sharing a vaguely defined set of information between firefighters, police officers, public health researchers and federal, state, and local governments. The letter [see "Related Files" below] asks Secretary Ridge to release a draft version of the new procedures - which would not themselves contain classified information – for the public to comment on. It also requests that DHS address public comments in writing a final version.


16 June 2003
ALA filed comments with the Department of Homeland Security on its proposed rule for implementing the Critical Infrastructure Information Protection program created in the Homeland Security Act.


6 June 6 2003
The GPO and the OMB announced a new compact for government printing. According to the press release put out by GPO, "both agencies seek to develop a mechanism that will allow Federal agencies direct access to printing vendors" and "both agencies seek to reduce the cost of Federal printing and to ensure the permanent public access to all non-classified government publications." 

Read the Press Release (PDF)