Washington E-Bulletin: September 2012

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Welcome to our redesigned E-Bulletin! We hope this new format will be easier to read and share. We will now send the E-Bulletin at the start of the month and post in HTML format. New sections let us give you an inside look into what’s ahead and where we need your help. For the most up-to-date information about action on the Hill and federal and state policy developments, sign up for our Advocacy Listserv and visit the Washington Blawg. Questions or comments? Email Elizabeth at eholland@aall.org.

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A Look Ahead

Potential Progress in Lame Duck Session

With only eight legislative days scheduled between now and the election, the lame-duck session is bound to be busy but brief. Following the November election, Congress must take up the trillions of dollars of fiscal issues referred to as the “fiscal cliff”, including the fight to extend Bush-era tax cuts, avert sequestration, and fund the government through next year. Unfortunately, there won’t be much time to do so; in 2010, the lame-duck session totaled only 29 days in the Senate and 19 days in the House.

However, there’s indication that several information policy issues may see some progress before the end of this Congress. H.Res. 727, the Congressional Research Service Electronic Accessibility Resolution of 2012, is currently awaiting consideration by the Committee on House Administration. Once it is reported out of committee, the bill will go to vote on the floor of the House and does not require Senate consideration, providing an easy opportunity for enactment. If you haven’t yet contacted your Representative in support of H.Res. 727, please take action now! Additionally, AALL is working with our allies to ensure that the Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act (ACMRA) (H.R. 1974 and S. 1411) has the support necessary to clear both the House and Senate. ACMRA would require every federal agency to provide the Government Printing Office with a copy of congressionally mandated reports to be published on FDsys. It’s also likely that the House will consider H.R. 3289, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, when it returns from the August recess next week. While Congress will be juggling its legislative priorities against a ticking clock, we’re hopeful that we may see some of this legislation enacted in the 112th Congress. 

White House Issues Records Management Directive 
On August 24, the Office of Management and Budget and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) released its Managing Government Records Directive, as required by President Obama's Memorandum on Managing Government Records. This new Directive is an important step forward to ensure preservation and permanent public access to federal agency records in electronic formats.

The Directive requires agencies to transition to electronic recordkeeping “to ensure transparency, efficiency and accountability,” a goal which promotes the open government commitments in President Obama’s Open Government Directive. Agencies are required to move to electronic recordkeeping of all permanent electronic records by 2019 and transition to electronic recordkeeping of email by 2016.  This is a critical goal in light of the recent agency records management self-assessments, which revealed that most agencies are at high to moderate risk of compromising the integrity, authenticity, and reliability of their records. However, considering the seemingly generous deadlines, AALL urged NARA officials to  continue to work with agencies to keep records management as a priority. In response, NARA assured us that they will establish "mini deadlines" to help agencies address their records management needs as quickly and effectively as possible.

The Directive also requires that records officers obtain additional training and establishes a formal records management occupational series to raise the profile of records managers. NARA will also bring together the Federal Chief Information Officers Council and the Federal Records Council— groups that have historically failed to communicate— to solve the critical records management challenges facing the federal government. AALL commends the Obama administration and NARA for taking proactive steps to fix a broken and oft-neglected records management system.

Act Now

New Academic Year, New Print Resource Use
Here’s a friendly reminder for all academic law librarians kicking off a new school year. As you work to help faculty and students find federal legal materials, please let us know when you use the print! We’ve already collected some great anecdotes with our Print Resource Usage Log, but want to ensure that the project is ongoing and up-to-date. Help us build the case for print by logging each time you use, or help someone to use, a federal legal resource in print. You may also consider posting the log link on your institution’s intranet to encourage more frequent use, as we know at least one creative law library has done! Public and private law librarians: please continue to log your use, too! We already have 20 excellent examples of print resource use and have shared your stories with our contacts on the Hill. Please help us double that number by the end of the month so that we can continue to show the need for access to print legal materials.     

NAPA FDLP Survey Due This Week
Calling all depository directors and coordinators! Don’t forget tomorrow is the deadline to fill out the GPO assessment survey from the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA). This is an important opportunity to help NAPA identify core issues on the Federal Depository Library Program for Congress. NAPA is required by the conference report to the 2012 Consolidated Appropriations Act (Public Law 112-74) to submit a report to Congress by early December.

AALL in the States

UELMA Headed to CA Governor's Desk

California’s Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act bill (UELMA), SB1075, passed the Senate on concurrence last week and is now awaiting Governor Brown’s signature. If signed, the California bill will be the second enactment of UELMA, following Colorado's lead earlier this year. All three of AALL's California chapters have been involved in the push to enact UELMA, writing letters to relevant Assembly and Senate committees and to the governor. Congratulations to NOCALL, SCALL, and SANDALL on this exciting progress!

Library Association Meets in Connecticut
Submitted by Jon Stock, SNELLA Government Relations Chair
SNELLA Government Relations Chair Jon Stock will attend the Connecticut Library Association GRC Meeting in Middletown on September 6. The first meeting geared toward the state’s 2013 legislative session, it will provide an excellent base for the continuing alliance between SNELLA and their public library colleagues.

California Legislature Suspends Open Meeting Law
Submitted by David McFadden, SCALL Government Relations Committee Chair 
In response to the ongoing California budget crisis, in June the California Legislature suspended certain requirements of the state’s Open Meeting law for three years. Suspended provisions include preparation and posting of agendas which allow the public to be aware in advance of what these governments are doing. Fortunately some cities, counties and other governmental entities, including county law libraries, continue to comply on a voluntary basis and the League of California Cities passed a resolution encouraging this. 

Roundup and Review
  • Happy First Birthday to GPO’s excellent resource for the depository library community, the FDLP Connection!
  • The Pew Internet and American Life Projects finds that “We swim in a sea of data … and the sea level is rising rapidly.
  • The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board makes progress … we hope.