Government Docs

Protecting the Nation's Memory

Linda K. Kerber is a professor of history at the University of Iowa has written a POV Column in the Chronicle on the National Archives and Records Administration allowing some federal agencies to withdraw declassified documents from public view and the Smithsonian Institution has signed an agreement with Showtime Networks to create an on-demand cable-television channel. That the Federal Bureau of Investigation wants to search the papers of the late investigative journalist Jack Anderson. She asks have you thought about what those controversies mean taken together?

New FGI Discussions: May 15, 2006

This week found our guest blogger Cindi Wolff and our regular Free Government Information volunteers quite busy with the following stories: Cindi's postings:

Volunteer postings:

As always we hope that you will stop by and join our conversation. As of May 12, 2006, a couple of users have emailed to say that they're having problems posting comments. We are looking into this problem. If you experience a problem posting a comment, please email us at admin AT freegovinfo DOT info and we'll post the comment for you. Don't let our technical difficulties keep you from contributing to the discussions. If you haven't already, please vote in our poll on archiving gov't e-docs at No FDSys related activity has been observed either at the main FDSys site or at their blog, which has been dormant since January. If someone from GPO knows whether the blog at http://fdsys.blogspot .com has been officially abandoned, I'd appreciate hearing from them. If you use Bloglines ( or some other RSS reader, consider subscribing to the FGI Feed at to get FGI stories as they are posted.

Taken or Lost? Roberts File Still Missing in Action

The Legal Times reports A potentially controversial file at the Reagan Presidential Library that went missing in the weeks before the confirmation hearings for John Roberts Jr. as chief justice last year has still not been found, according to an internal investigation made public Tuesday.

The report by the inspector general for the National Archives and Records Administration indicates that investigators were "unable to determine whether the missing file was taken intentionally, unintentionally, or lost." The heavily edited report, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, went up on the Memory Hole Web site Tuesday night.

Vote in new poll on saving gov't e-docs

Free Government Information has a new unscientific poll on how or whether libraries and individuals save electronic government documents. Please hop over and provide an opinion. Feel free to tell us what you think about the subject - three others already have.

New FGI Discussions: May 8, 2006

Free Government Information (FGI)'s blogger of the month is Cindi Wolff. Cindi's interests are in open access and govt information. We're loooking forward to seeing what she has to say! In the meantime, here are stories that FGI Volunteers have started in the past few weeks:

No FDSys related activity has been observed either at the main FDSys site or at their blog, which has been dormant since January. If you use Bloglines ( or some other RSS reader, consider subscribing to the FGI Feed at to get FGI stories as they are posted.

How the National Archives Struck a Secret Deal

Anonymous Patron writes "From The Chronicle of Higher Education: Last week the National Archives acknowledged that, soon after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, it struck a secret, classified agreement with the Central Intelligence Agency spelling out how the two federal agencies would work together to remove documents from the archives' shelves for the purpose of reclassification. Since the deal became public, the archives has moved quickly to denounce it and to push to declassify the agreement, which is now available online."

New FGI Discussions: April 24, 2006

"New FGI Discussions" has been hiatus since April 8th, but both our guest blogger Shane Mackey and the Free Government Information volunteers have been busy these past few weeks: Shane's entries:

Volunteers' entries:

The GPO folks running the Future Digital System project have been active as well. While the FDSys Blog has been inactive since January 24, 2006, the main FDSys site has posted an amendement to their RFP and posted an updated requirements document. If you use Bloglines ( or some other RSS reader, consider subscribing to the FGI Feed at to get FGI stories as they are posted. With this issue, "New FGI Discussions" resumes it's regular weekly schedule. Come and join the discussions!

Archives Pledges to End Secret Agreements

The National Archives will no longer enter into secret agreements with federal agencies that want to withdraw records from public access on Archives shelves and will do more to disclose when documents are removed for national security reasons.

The new policy cannot guarantee full disclosure, however, because in some cases federal regulations limit the Archives' ability to reveal which agency is reviewing records and why, said Susan Cooper, a spokeswoman for the Archives.

GPO in a hurry to get to the future

FCW Reports The Government Printing Office has set aggressive deadlines to acquire a digital dissemination system that will transform a 19th-century printing office into a 21st-century electronic information agency. But some procurement experts say GPO’s haste could slow its Future Digital System project.

Last week, GPO requested bids for a master integrator to design an electronic system for disseminating government publications. Vendors have 30 days to respond to the request for proposals, after which GPO will begin an extensive evaluation of the submissions. GPO officials said they hope to award a contract this summer.

Smithsonian Sells Out?

Today's All Things Considered (audio link, see also ABC News for text coverage) investigates a contract the Smithsonian Institution made with Showtime, granting some exclusive rights to the network. The deal is raising the hackles of some filmmakers.

Compare to the for-profit publishing of government documents, Coke's sponsorship of the Library of Congress, and the much-maligned NIH proposal to make tax-funded research public (or the hawking of virgin forests or arctic wildlife habitats, but I digress).

Is the government selling rights to national treasures off like this warranted?


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