The American Association of Law Libraries
Washington Affairs Office
AALL Issue Brief
July 2001 S. 803, The E-Government Act of 2001 BACKGROUND:
The Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs last year initiated a public square for comment through the committees web site that encouraged citizen participation in response to questions about e-government and access to government information. Based on the public record of e-Government: An Experiment in Interactive Legislation, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) directed his staff to develop legislation that would respond to the issues raised by the public. The result is the E-Government Act of 2001 introduced on May 1, 2001 by Sen. Lieberman and Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT). Recognizing that the Federal government has had uneven success in applying advances in information technology to enhance Government functions and services, achieve more efficient performance, and increase access to Government informant and citizen participation in Government, S. 803 sets out to make the government more Internet-Friendly by providing new leadership, new coordination and collaboration, and improved oversight of agency compliance.
The following are key provisions of the E-Government Act of 2001:
- Creates a Federal CIO in a new Office of Information Policy at OMB to provide more visible coordination within the executive branch, to implement information provisions in existing laws, to review agencies technology budgets, and to lead efforts in such key areas as online privacy and computer security.
- The CIO will consult with others to identify standards for categorizing and cataloging government information so that web-based electronic publications can be located by common bibliographic elements, such as title, author, etc. for improved search capabilities.
- Provides a framework for the life-cycle management of electronic government information for executive branch agencies, from creation to permanent public access and preservation.
- Creates and funds an Online National Library for the sharing of information among libraries, archives, museums, historical societies and other educational institutions.
- Requires the development of an online Federal telephone directory across agencies; a public domain directory of agency web sites; and standards for agency web sites.
- Sections 205 and 206 provide an explicit framework for the courts and regulatory agencies to follow in creating and maintaining content on their web sites. These provisions include an opt-out clause. We are working with committee staff to strengthen this provision so that a court or regulatory agency would not have a permanent opt-out, but rather would have to show progress each year in meeting a set time frame for compliance.
- Sec. 205(e) repeals current statutory language permitting the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts to charge fees to access PACER. While the public has no-fee access to valuable electronic publications from Congress and Federal agencies, the same is not true for the courts. Adequate annual funding for the Administrative Office of the Unites States Courts to ensure no-fee public access to PACER. should be added to S. 803.
Contact your Senators and urge them to please sponsor S. 803. The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee held a hearing on the legislation on July 11, 2001. The joint AALL/ARL/ALA testimony is at: http://www.aallnet.org/aallwash/tm07112001.asp.