November 19, 2010

White House: Middle Class Task Force - Equal Access to Justice

Richard Zorza has reminded us that the White House is conducting an event on access to Justice today with Vice President Biden as one of the featured speakers. The event started at 10:30AM. You should be able to listen in on the proceedings by clicking here. For those of us concerned with equal access to legal services, including legal information, this is an important event.

October 15, 2010

U.S. Justice Department is Continuing its Anti Corruption Campaign

In the October 15, 2010 Wall Street Journal, Dionne Searcey reports that "after numerous record-shattering fines and executive prosecutions in recent years, the government's crackdown on violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act shows no signs of slowing.

So far this year, the U.S. Justice Department has carried out a dozen prosecutions, after 19 prosecutions in 2009. That doesn't include civil cases brought under the law by the Securities and Exchange Commission." To see Ms. Searcey's complete article, go to:

September 28, 2010

From the Brennan Center: The Federal Judiciary

.Following up on our postiing about U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen Bryer, we wanted to share with you the following excerpts from news and commentary sent to us by the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University Law School

September 24, 2010.

1.. On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee again voted to approve four of President Obama's nominees for federal judgeships. Goodwin Liu, a Berkeley law professor for the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Louis Butler Jr., a former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice, U.S. Magistrate Judge Edward Chen of California, and lawyer John McConnell Jr. of Rhode Island - all of whom had been previously approved by the Senate panel but never received a final vote on the Senate floor - were approved along party lines. The Blog of Legal Times says the vote indicates a partisan showdown in the weeks before the heated mid-term elections. Two opposing editorials illustrate how divisive the issue is: a New York Times editorial recently blasted "An Extreme Judicial Blockade" by Senate Republicans while a Washington Times editorial stated that a "GOP Senate [is] needed to block bad judges."

David Ingram, Democrats Push Forward On Goodwin Liu, Other Judge Nominees, The Blog Of Legal Times, September 23, 2010; An Extreme Judicial Blockade, The New York Times, September 22, 2010; Editorial: GOP Senate Needed To Block Bad Judges, Washington Times, September 15, 2010.

2.. "These delays are excessive . . . . The timeliness of information enhances its value. If un-elected administrators can impose an arbitrary 10-day waiting period, what's to stop them from deciding 30 days or three years might be even better?" So says an editorial in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, which decries the difficult and slow process of obtaining judicial disclosure statements. The topic of judges' disclosures of their financial holdings - and whether those holdings should disqualify judges from ruling on specific cases - received national attention earlier this year after the public discovered that the federal judge tasked with ruling on the Obama administration's deepwater drilling moratorium held shares of Exxon Mobil. According to the Associated Press, a routine disclosure statement from the judge, Martin Feldman, revealing his oil industry stock ownership, would have signaled a potential conflict of interest in the drilling case - but wasn't available because "Judges' disclosures [are] hard to get." The article juxtaposes judicial disclosure statements with those filed by legislators and concludes that while the public can read Senators' and House members' statements from a computer, concerned citizens should "be prepared to wait" to see a federal judge's disclosure statement because it can take two weeks for such a report to be provided, the reports are not posted on the judiciary's website, and judges are notified when someone asks for a copy.

Mark Sherman, Inside Washington: Judges' Disclosures Hard To Get, Associated Press, September 20, 2010; Editorial: Waiting Period, Las Vegas Review-Journal, September 22, 2010.

September 22, 2010

U.S. National Archives Puts 3,000 Historic Documents Online*

The National Archives has created a new online public website that features more than 3,000 historic documents, photos and videos available for download, along with applications for teachers to create and share history lessons about the items, officials announced.

The new website,, offers historic items such as a short newsreel of American war planes attacking Japan in 1944, photos of President Jimmy Carter’s inauguration and a court document on the conviction of activist Susan B. Anthony for voting before it was legal for women to vote....

Click here to see complete article.

*Source: Liebowicz, Alice. "National Aarchives Puts 3,000 Historic Documents Online. Federal Computer Week. Sept 21, 2010.

September 14, 2010

Selected Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports Posted September 14, 2010*

CRS Issue Statement on Terrorism
Issue Statement No. IS40398
Subjects: Terrorism
CRS Reports, 111th Congress (8/5/2010; Posted: 9/14/2010)

CRS Issue Statement on Voting and Elections
Issue Statement No. IS40405
Subjects: Elections
CRS Reports, 111th Congress (7/19/2010; Posted: 9/14/2010)

Comparison of the Current World Trade Center Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program and the World Trade Center Health Program Proposed by Title I of H.R. 847
Report No. R41292
Subjects: Terrorism; Emergency Management; Health Policy
CRS Reports, 111th Congress (9/2/2010; Posted: 9/14/2010)

Supreme Court Appointment Process: Roles of the President, Judiciary Committee, and Senate
Report No. RL31989
Subjects: Congress; Law; Presidents
CRS Reports, 111th Congress (9/3/2010; Posted: 9/14/2010)

The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11
Report No. RL33110
Subjects: Terrorism; Defense Economics; Defense Policy; Afghanistan; Iraq
CRS Reports, 111th Congress (9/2/2010; Posted: 9/14/2010)
*Congressional Quarterly, Inc. (CQ).September 14, 2010.

September 10, 2010

Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports*

A selected list of CRS Reports posted between August 11, 2010 and September 10, 2010. Although almost all of the CRS Reports in the following list relate in some way to crime and criminal justice, a few addressing other topics where readers have expressed an interest have also been included.:

Deprivation of Honest Services as a Basis for Federal Mail and Wire Fraud Convictions
Report No. R40852
Subjects: Criminal Justice
CRS Reports, 111th Congress (7/28/2010; Posted: 8/11/2010)

United States v. Comstock: Supreme Court Review of Civil Commitment Under the Adam Walsh Act
Report No. R40958
Subjects: Criminal Justice; Law
CRS Reports, 111th Congress (7/26/2010; Posted: 8/11/2010)

Coast Guard Deepwater Acquisition Programs: Background, Oversight Issues, and Options for Congress
Report No. RL33753
Subjects: Drug Abuse; Immigration; Defense Policy
CRS Reports, 111th Congress (7/29/2010; Posted: 8/13/2010)

The Americans with Disabilities Act: Application to the Internet
Report No. R40462
Subjects: Disabled Persons; Telecommunications
CRS Reports, 111th Congress (8/5/2010; Posted: 8/18/2010)

Garcia v. Vilsack: A Policy and Legal Analysis of a USDA Discrimination Case
Report No. R40988
Subjects: Agriculture; Civil Rights and Liberties; Minorities; Women's Issues
CRS Reports, 111th Congress (8/2/2010; Posted: 8/18/2010)

Federal Civil and Criminal Penalties Possibly Applicable to Parties Responsible for the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill
Report No. R41370
Subjects: Civil Rights and Liberties; Criminal Justice; Environmental Protection; Law
CRS Reports, 111th Congress (8/16/2010; Posted: 8/23/2010)

Federal Cocaine Sentencing Disparity: Sentencing Guidelines, Jurisprudence, and Legislation
Report No. RL33318
Subjects: Criminal Justice; Drug Abuse
CRS Reports, 111th Congress (8/5/2010; Posted: 8/23/2010)

Border Security: The Role of the U.S. Border Patrol
Report No. RL32562
Subjects: Terrorism; Immigration
CRS Reports, 111th Congress (8/11/2010; Posted: 9/1/2010)

Gun Control Legislation
Report No. RL32842
Subjects: Criminal Justice
CRS Reports, 111th Congress (8/11/2010; Posted: 9/1/2010)

Navy Irregular Warfare and Counterterrorism Operations: Background and Issues for Congress
Report No. RS22373
Subjects: Terrorism; Defense Policy
CRS Reports, 111th Congress (8/17/2010; Posted: 9/2/2010)

Same-Sex Marriages: Legal Issues
Report No. RL31994
Subjects: Families; Law; Minorities
CRS Reports, 111th Congress (8/18/2010; Posted: 9/8/2010)

Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies: FY2011 Appropriations
Report No. R41161
Subjects: Budget; Criminal Justice; Science Policy; Trade
CRS Reports, 111th Congress (8/24/2010; Posted: 9/8/2010)

Medicare Payment Policies
Report No. RL30526
Subjects: Health Policy
CRS Reports, 111th Congress (8/18/2010; Posted: 9/8/2010)

Supreme Court Nominations Not Confirmed, 1789-August 2010
Report No. RL31171
Subjects: Law
CRS Reports, 111th Congress (8/20/2010; Posted: 9/8/2010)

Supreme Court Nominations, 1789 - 2010: Actions by the Senate, the Judiciary Committee, and the President
Report No. RL33225
Subjects: Congress; Law; Presidents
CRS Reports, 111th Congress (8/23/2010; Posted: 9/10/2010)
* SOURCE: Congressional Quarterly:CQ Roll Call Group Service. Sservice. For additional information see:

September 8, 2010

CRS Report: U.S. Mexican Security Cooperation - the Merida Iniative and Beyond

CRS Report No. R41349; 8/16/2010; Posted 9/7/2010
Author(s): Clare Ribando Seelke, Specialist in Latin American Affairs; Kristin M. Finklea, Analyst in Domestic Security
Subject(s): Mexico; Criminal Justice; Drug Abuse
No. of Pages: 35


In recent years, U.S.-Mexican security cooperation has increased significantly, largely as a result of the development and implementation of the Mérida Initiative, a counterdrug and anticrime assistance package for Mexico and Central America that was first proposed in October 2007 With the recent enactment of the FY2010 Supplemental Appropriations Act (H.R. 4899/P.L. 111-212), Congress has provided almost $1.8 billion for the Mérida Initiative. Congress provided $248 million of that funding to Central America and included an additional $42 million for Caribbean countries. However, Congress has dedicated the vast majority of the funds—roughly $1.5 billion—to support programs in Mexico, with an emphasis on training and equipping Mexican military and police forces engaged in counterdrug efforts. Escalating drug traffickingrelated violence in Mexico and the increasing control that Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) have over the illicit drug market in the United States have focused congressional attention on the efficacy of U.S-Mexican efforts and related domestic initiatives in both countries.

With funding for the original Mérida Initiative technically ending in FY2010 and new initiatives
underway for Central America and the Caribbean, the Obama Administration proposed a new
four-pillar strategy for U.S.-Mexican security cooperation in its FY2011 budget request. That
strategy focuses on (1) disrupting organized criminal groups; (2) institutionalizing the rule of law;
(3) building a 21st century border; and (4) building strong and resilient communities. The first two pillars largely build upon existing efforts, whereas pillars three and four broaden the scope of
Mérida Initiative programs to include new efforts to facilitate “secure flows” of people and goods
through the U.S.-Mexico border and to improve conditions in violence-prone border cities. The
Administration’s FY2011 budget request includes $310 million for Mérida programs in Mexico.

Congress is likely to continue overseeing how well U.S. agencies and their Mexican counterparts are implementing the Mérida Initiative and the degree to which both countries are fulfilling their pledges to tackle domestic problems contributing to drug trafficking in the region. Congress may also examine the degree to which the Administration’s new strategy for U.S. programs in Mexico complements other counterdrug and border security efforts, including the $600 million in supplemental funds for Southwest Border security efforts provided in (H.R. 6080/P.L. 111-230). In addition to questions about the four pillars proposed, Congress may also debate how best to measure the success of current and future Mérida Initiative programs. A July 2010 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) recommended that the State Department develop better performance measures to track progress under Mérida. Another congressional interest is likely to focus on whether human rights conditions placed on Mérida funding are appropriate or sufficient. Congress is currently deciding what types and amounts of funding to provide for future U.S.-Mexican counterdrug and anticrime efforts initiated under the Mérida Initiative in the FY2011 Foreign Operations Appropriations bill.

For related information, see CRS Report RL32724, Mexico-U.S. Relations: Issues for Congress;
CRS Report R41075, Southwest Border Violence: Issues in Identifying and Measuring Spillover
Violence; CRS Report R41237, People Crossing Borders: An Analysis of U.S. Border Protection
Policies, by Chad C. Haddal; and CRS Report R41215,

July 28, 2010

The War Logs: Deciding What to Publish - And What Not to Publish

According to the New York Times, the articles published on July 25 are based on thousands of United States military incident and intelligence reports — records of engagements, mishaps, intelligence on enemy activity and other events from the war in Afghanistan — that were made public on Sunday on the Internet by WikiLeaks, an organization devoted to exposing secrets of all kinds. These reports are used by desk officers in the Pentagon and troops in the field when they make operational plans and prepare briefings on the situation in the war zone. Most of the reports are routine, even mundane, but many add insights, texture and context to a war that has been waged for nearly nine years.

The New York Times article, Piecing Together the Reports, and Deciding What to Publish, explains the process of deliberation through which the New York Times decided to publish, and sometimes not to publish, material from some 92,000 individual reports made available by WikiLeaks to the Times, The Guardian newspaper in London, and the German magazine Der Spiegel.

July 21, 2010

The U.S. Intelligence Community and Top Secret America

More than a dozen Washington Post journalists spent two years developing Top Secret America, a multimedia presentation put together by compiling hundreds of thousands of public records of government organizations and private sector companies. From these records, the Washington Post identified a web of these organizations, both government and private, that are engaged in top secret work for the government. According to Dana Priest and Matthew M. Arkin, two Washington Post reporters who have written about the Project, these findings amount to "...a Top Secret America hidden from public view and lacking in thorough oversight."

Here are some additional links for those interested in the Washington Post Project:

Introductory Video:

Articles by Dana Priest and William Arkn discussing the Top Secret America Project:

While the Washington Post was involved in the above project, Andrew M Borene was editing a book The U.S. Intelligence Community Law Sourcebook: A Compendium of National Security Related Laws and Policy Documents, recently published by the American Bar Association. I have not yet read this book but according to material provided by the ABA, "the Washington Post's new multimedia project on national intelligence shows just how intricate the web of agencies and laws in the United States can be, and The U.S Intelligence Community Law Sourcebook can be a great reference for making sense of it."

This book is described as a "complete guide to U.S intelligence community source material, including relevant federal statutes, intelligence authorization acts, executive orders, attorney general and the director of national intelligence guidelines, and proposed significant legislation in the U.S. intelligence community".

From information available, it certainly appears that the combination of the materials available from the Washington Post Top Secret America Project and the Compendium volume published by the ABA together comprise together provide a much needed, even essential, resource for those exploring issues related to "Top Secret America".

David Badertscher

May 27, 2010

The Third Way: A Narrowly Tailored Broadband Framework

David Badertscher

This posting is essentially a followup of two of our earlier postings on this topic which you can find here and here.

It begins with two statements released by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on May 6, 2010 in partial response to the recent decision in the Comcast case.and continues with a listing of recent Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports addressing various aspects of the topic:

First Statement:
The Third Way: A Narrowly Tailored Broadband Framework. a statement by Julius Genachowski
Chairman, Federal Communications Commission.

Many have asked about the FCC’s next steps in view of the recent decision in the Comcast case. On May 6, 2010 the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released two statements to address this question. The first statement by Julius Genachowski, Chairman of the FCC describes a path forward, which will begin with seeking public comment on a post-Comcast legal foundation for the FCC’s approach to broadband communications services. The goal according to Mr. Genachowski, is to restore the broadly supported status quo consensus that existed prior to the court decision on the FCC’s role with respect to broadband Internet service. He emphasizes that he "is open to all ideas on the best approach to achieve our country’s vital goals with respect to high-speed broadband for all Americans, and the Commission proceeding to follow will seek comment on multiple legal theories and invite new ideas".

Second Statement:
A Third-Way Legal Framework For Addressing The Comcast Dilemma, a statement by Austin Schlick, General Counsel, Federal Communications Commission prepared at the request of Chairman Genachowski:

The second statement, prepared by Austin Schlick, General Counsel of the FCC at the request of Chairman Genachowski describes the legal thinking behind the narrow and tailored approach to broadband communications services that Chairman Genachowski introduced for public discussion on May 6. It springs from a longstanding consensus about how the FCC should approach Internet access services; from a recent court decision that casts serious doubt on the FCC’s current strategy for implementing that consensus; and from a belief that Congress’s laws and the Supreme Court’s decisions provide a way to overcome this new challenge.

Those interested in this topic may also want to obtain copies of the following recently released CRS Reports: Due to restrictions we cannot provide them in full text on this blog.

Distribution of Broadband Stimulus Grants and Loans: Applications and Awards
Report No. R41164
Subjects: Rural Affairs; Telecommunications
CRS Reports, 111th Congress (4/16/2010; Posted: 4/23/2010)

Broadband Internet Access and the Digital Divide: Federal Assistance Programs
Report No. RL30719
Subjects: Telecommunications
CRS Reports, 111th Congress (4/19/2010; Posted: 5/4/2010)

Broadband Loan and Grant Programs in the USDA's Rural Utilities Service
Report No. RL33816
Subjects: Rural Affairs; Telecommunications
CRS Reports, 111th Congress (4/20/2010; Posted: 5/5/2010)

The FCC's Authority to Regulate Net Neutrality after Comcast v. FCC
Report No. R40234
Subjects: Telecommunications
CRS Reports, 111th Congress (4/23/2010; Posted: 5/6/2010)

Broadband Infrastructure Programs in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
Report No. R40436
Subjects: Economic Policy; Telecommunications
CRS Reports, 111th Congress (5/6/2010; Posted: 5/17/2010)

Access to Broadband Networks: The Net Neutrality Debate
Report No. R40616
Subjects: Telecommunications
CRS Reports, 111th Congress (5/6/2010; Posted: 5/18/2010)

May 12, 2010

Important Information Resource on U.S. Supreme Court Nominee Elena Kagan

Many thanks to Luis Acosta of the Library of Congress for forwarding the following:

Elena Kagan Nominated to the Supreme Court:

On April 9, 2010 Justice John Paul Stevens announced that he would retire after nearly 35 years on the bench of the U.S. Supreme Court. President Obama announced the nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to replace Stevens on May 10, 2010. This is President Obama's second nomination to the nation's highest court, following his selection of Justice Sonia Sotomayor in May 2009. Notably the first female Solicitor General and first female dean of Harvard Law School, if Kagan is confirmed, she will also be the fourth woman to serve on the Court.

To serve congressional and public requests for resources pertaining to this historic nomination, the Law Library of Congress has developed a web presentation on Kagan on its Supreme Court Nominations site Visit this presentation site to find out more about her work and background, including books and articles she has written as well as other related material including Congressional Documents, U.S. Supreme Court Oral Arguments, web resources, video, and related resources at The Law Library of Congress

April 12, 2010

U.S. Department of Transportation Partners With Cornell University in Pilot Project Regulation Room for eRulemaking

"On January 21st, 2009, President Obama issued a Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government in which he described how: 'public engagement enhances the Government's effectiveness and improves the quality of its decisions. Knowledge is widely dispersed in society, and public officials benefit from having access to that dispersed knowledge.'

To support the President's open government initiative, DOT has partnered with the Cornell eRulemaking Initiative (CeRI) in a pilot project, Regulation Room, to discover the best ways of using Web 2.0 and social networking technologies to: (1) alert the public, including those who sometimes may not be aware of rulemaking proposals, such as individuals, public interest groups, small businesses, and local government entities that rulemaking is occurring in areas of interest to them; (2) increase public understanding of each proposed rule and the rulemaking process; and (3) help the public formulate more effective individual and collaborative input to DOT. Over the course of several rulemaking initiatives, CeRI will use different Web technologies and approaches to enhance public understanding and participation, work with DOT to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of these techniques, and report their findings and conclusions on the most effective use of social networking technologies in this area...."

Quote from U.S. Department of Transportation Website.

Elaborating on this initiative, Barbara Brandon reports in an e-mail that:

"Last fall Cornell’s e-Rulemaking Initiative ran a test of how to increase rulemaking participation on a closed rule. They have just started a new test on an active proposal on how to prevent distracted driving by truck drivers who are texting while operating a vehicle. See and

This joint effort by DOT in conjunction with Cornell is also part of that agency’s efforts to comply with the Obama Administration’s Transparency Initiative. I think it is important for librarians to give this a look and see what they think of this particular effort. Expanding rulemaking participation beyond the closed circle of Washington beltway interest groups is a key benefit that the Internet can offer to good governance"

April 9, 2010

U.S. Appeals Court Ruling Curbs FCC Control of Net Regulation

In a unanimous 3-0 Decision last Tuesday April 6 the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the Federal Communication Commission did not have the authority to order Comcast in 2008 to cease and desist interfering with the traffic of Bit Torrent a P2P file sharing service. At the time Comcast ostensibly accepted the order, but ended up appealing the ruling in the courts. The April 6 opinion is the result of that appeal.

As can be expected, reactions have been quick in coming and are quite varied, depending on the perspective and interests of those responding. Some have emphasized the supposedly narrow scope of the ruling attempting to play down its overall importance. Others see it has quite significant, even ground breaking in its scope. For example, will the ruling set a prescedent that allows internet providers to control broadband service as they see fit since it clearly undercuts the FCC's claim to authority to regulate the internet? What about the FCC's recently released National Broadband Plan supported by the Obama administration? Many of my fellow libraraians have been looking forward to both participating in and benefiting from this program which contains some provisions related to libraries.? And what about the overarching issues relating to equal treatment for all who use the internet? That not only refers to the "information poor" who often have difficulty getting access under the best of conditions; is could also impact those at the opposite end of this spectrum, eg. Google's You Tube and Microsoft's

So many questions, which indicates that this decision really is important with far reaching consequences. Some think this ruling will be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court but we will need to wait and see. Meanwhile, the FCC has been handed some significant regulatory issues it will need to try to work around. Can they do it. It appears from a statement issued after the ruling that they are prepared to try.

Some believe the FCC might consider move to reclassify internet services as Title II common carrier services which transport people and goods under regulatory supervision. That might help the FCC move toward the broadband stimulus bill which relies on the FCC to regulate internet access. But that could ignite a firestorm among the carriers and there may be a question as to whether the FCC really wants to take that on.

The ruling does appear to free the big cable companies such as Comcast from the threat of net neutrality rules which they say would interfere significantly with their ability to manage traffic on their own networks and prioritize certain applications such as those used to block spam.. Others are concerned that the ruling will hinder the Obama administrations push for more net neutrality on the web. And what about the common ordinary citizen who is in desperate need for web access? Right now the outlook appears highly uncertain. It is worth noting the remark of Ben Scott, policy director for the Free Press, a not-for-profit organization that supported the F.C.C in the Comcast case: "Internet users now have no cop on the beat."

Reactions keep coming. Here is an excerpt from the April 12, 2010 National Law Journal as reported on LAW.COM:

"Comcast's courthouse victory over the Federal Communications Commission last week might not turn out to be a win for the company after all if it speeds the path for wider regulation of broadband services. The unanimous ruling was a short-term affirmation for those who want to rein in the FCC's ability to impose 'net neutrality' rules, but major battles loom in at least two venues: the commission and Congress. A loss in either place would mean a lot more uncertainty for companies like Comcast."

Below are two documents related to the Comcast decision. The first link is to the FCC Statement issued after the decion' the second link is to the decision itself.

FCC Statement on Comcast v. FCC Decision

Decision: Comcast Corporation v. Federal Communications Commission No. 08-1291

March 19, 2010

Final Showdown on Health Care Legislation Set for This Weekend

House Democrats are reported to be making a final push this weekend to pass health care legislation. To that end a nearly final version of a bill, along with a report on the bill's cost by the Congressional Budget Office, was unveiled yesterday. A final showdown regarding this legislation is expected this Sunday March 21.

As part of our series of postings regarding efforts to overhaul the health care system in the United States we are making the following documents accessible:

03/18/2010 Section-by-Section Summary of the Substitute Amendment to the Reconciliation Act, H.R. 4872

03/18/2010 Text of the Substitute Amendment to the Reconciliation Act, H.R. 4872

03/18/2010 CBO Cost Estimate for the Reconciliation Act, H.R. 4872
CBO Estimate of Direct Spending and Revenue Effects for the Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute Released on March 18, 2010

March 10, 2010

What New Information or Data Would You Like Federal Agencies to Publish Online?

Mary Alice Baish, Director of Government Relations and Emily Feldman, Advocacy Communications Assistant (both of the American Association of Law Libraries, AALL), have been doing a tremendous job serving as advocates for high quality and highly accessible legal information on the web in a format that can be authenticated.

The following is an e-mail from Emily which mentions the work of the White House open government working group and includes a request for suggestions regarding specific types of information and datasets you would like to see agencies publish. Although Emily's e-mail is directed primarily to law librarians I am posting it here because of the value of this initiative to the entire legal community.

FROM: Emily Feldman
March 10, 2010

The White House’s open government working group has held several meetings with stakeholders, including AALL, to develop criteria to measure agency open government plans, which must be published by April 7. At a meeting last Friday, I was pleased to learn that the working group adopted Mary Alice’s suggestion that Executive Branch agencies be evaluated based in part on whether they commit in their plans to publish new information (e.g., reports and publications) on their Web sites, in addition to new high-value datasets in XML on

We’re looking for specific types of information and datasets that you’d like to see agencies publish. The working group is also very interested in any cross-agency datasets you’d like to see added to (e.g., crime data from DOJ/DHS, health data from EPA/HHS).

Some of the suggestions we’ve received so far include:

· All historic content that agencies have digitized (presuming that agencies followed the Paperwork Reduction Act and didn’t make exclusive deals)

· All the legislative histories that have been digitized by the Department of Justice Library

· Dataset on "charges of discrimination" filed from the EEOC

Are there other information holdings or datasets that you’d like to see added? Please email me the title and name of the publishing agency by COB next Wednesday, March 17.



Emily Feldman
Advocacy Communications Assistant
American Association of Law Libraries
25 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Suite 500
Washington, D.C. 20001


Fax: 202-737-0480

103nd Annual Meeting & Conference / Denver, CO. / July 10-13, 2010

February 22, 2010

President Obama's Health Care Proposal


The President's health care proposal as released on February 22 purports to put "...American families and small business owners in control of their health care. To help those who are following this issue we are providing in this post, links to a 10+ page Summary prepared by the White House. This document provides a good overview and discussion regarding provisions in the proposed legislation.


Exploring the Proposal

This is a link for those who want to really explore the President Obama's Health Care Proposal through more comprehensive Section by Section analysis .

Both of the above links will lead you to very useful information. We would urge everyone to explore these documents.

February 19, 2010

White House Develops Its Own Health Care Bill

The quest for health care reform continues. According to Roll Call the White House has developed its own version of a merged House-Senate health care reform package and plans to have it online for public review by Monday in advance of a bipartisan health care summit scheduled for Feb. 25. As reported, the White House has taken what it considers the best of the House and Senate bills and come up with their own proposal.

Roll Call article.

February 3, 2010

James Lynch Receives Nomination to Head Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics

BY: Michael Chernicoff

President Barack Obama's nominee to head the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) has promsed to make its statistical body free from political manipulation. In making an independent statistical body, James Lynch may hope to reverse that likelihood that the BJS and its official are, "inappropriately treated in the future."

In 2009, James Lynch was a member of the Panel to Review the Programs of the Bureau of Justice Statistics of the Committee on National Statistics (CNSTAT), which provided recommendations to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) on ways to improve the quality, creditability, and relevance of U.S. justice statistics. In that report, the Panel recommended that "BJS be moved out of OJP (Office of Justice Programs)," and further suggested, "that the position of BJS director be made a fixed-term presidential appointment with Senate confirmation." (A full-text copy of this report be

The Bureau of Justice Statistics was created under the Justice System Improvement Act of 1979, Public Law 96-157 (the 1979 Amendment to the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, Public Law 90-351) on December 27, 1979. According to their website, the mission of BJS purpose is to, "collect, analyze, publish, and disseminate information on crime, criminal offenders, victims of crime, and the operation of justice systmes at all levels of government."

A hearing to confirm James Lynch's nomination was held on January 20th, 2010.


February 2, 2010

2011 Budget of the U.S. Government- Fact Sheets

As almost everyone knows, the 2011 U.S. Budget was submitted on February 1. Since this is such a huge budget, in terms of both bulk and scope, we have decided to limit this posting largely to links to some " Budget Fact Sheets" prepared by the Office of Management and Budget. Each separately linked fact sheet focuses on a particular priority or group of priorities related to this budget request, thus enabling you to quickly "pick and choose" those areas that interest and concern you without devoting considerable time to other parts of the budget. If you wish to examine this budget request in greater detail, go to the GPO Access link at the end of this posting.

Here are links to the Budget Fact Sheets::

Keeping America Safe and Secure

Clean Energy

Suppoting World Class Education for Children

Create Industries and Jobs

Secure and Affordable Health Care

Supporting America's Military Families

Supporting America's Middle Class Families

Supporting Our Nation's Seniors

Opening Doors for College and Opportunity

Those who are interested in more extensive regarding Budget for the U.S. Governmenrt for fy 11 can go to the GPO Access site at and follow the various links at that location,

January 6, 2010

User Driven Enhancements to THOMAS Launched on its Fifteenth Birthday

THOMAS was launched on January 5, 1995, at the inception of the 104th Congress. The leadership of the 104th Congress directed the Library of Congress to make federal legislative information freely available to the public. Since that time THOMAS has expanded the scope of its offerings to include many features and content including those listed below.:

Bills, Resolutions
Activity in Congress
Congressional Record
Schedules, Calendars
Committee Information
Presidential Nominations

Now, fifteen years later in response to user feedback and in celebration of its fifteenth
anniversary, THOMAS has been updated for the second session of the 111th

As reported by Emily Carr of the Public Services Division at the Law Library of Congress, the new items include a bookmarking and sharing toolbar, top five bills of the week, a new RSS feed, highlighting how to contact Members of Congress, a tip of the week, enhanced visibility of bill PDFs, and an increased timeout interval.

The bookmarking and sharing toolbar, found near the top of most THOMAS pages, allows users to save or share a permanent link via bookmarks,email, or social networking sites such as Twitter or Facebook. The toolbar also includes quick links to subscribe to THOMAS RSS feeds and to print.

The five most-searched-for bills from the past week will be listed in the center box on the right side of the homepage. Hovering the mouse over the bill number will display the title of the bill.

The new Bills Presented to the President RSS feed and email update lists bills that have passed both the House and Senate and have been sent to the White House for the President's signature.

It's now easier to contact your Members of Congress. A link to this page of tips about how to contact your Representative or Senator is included on the homepage.

Each week, a new tip about using THOMAS will be displayed on the right-hand side of the THOMAS homepage, below the “Top Five” list.

Based on user feedback, links to the bill PDF are more visible and accessible. Clicking on a PDF link will bring you to the Government Printing Office (GPO) PDF for a specific version of a bill.

Search results within THOMAS are displayed on temporary pages. The timeout interval has been increased from 5 minutes to 20 minutes..

THOMAS can be accessed at