Washington E-Bulletin - March 2013

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Vol. 2013, Issue 03

A Look Ahead

Budgeting for Fiscal Year 2014

Earlier this week, the House Appropriations Legislative Branch Subcommittee began its work on Fiscal Year 2014 by hosting several budget hearings, including one for the Government Printing Office (GPO) and one for the Library of Congress (LC). With neither GPO nor LC's Fiscal Year 2014 appropriations request yet submitted, the hearings focused on FY2014 budget request in generalities, the effects of sequestration, and specific programmatic questions.

 

Rep. Rodney Alexander (R-La.) is the new chair of the subcommittee, and former chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) has returned to the subcommittee as ranking member. Rep. Wasserman Schultz is very knowledgeable about GPO, the Federal Depository Library Program and FDsys from her previous tenure. During Tuesday's hearing, she emphasized GPO's critical role in disseminating, authenticating and preserving government information.

 

Acting Public Printer Davita Vance-Cooks highlighted several of GPO's recent successes, including making House bills available in XML bulk data format, expanding collections on FDsys, and creating new apps like the Mobile Budget of the United States for FY13. She also talked about the recent National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) study, which she said "affirms GPO's mission." (See our analysis of the NAPA report on the Blawg). Vance Cooks said the sequester, which begins to take effect today, will cost GPO $6.7 million, with cuts coming from discretionary programs and organizational restrictions (travel, hiring, etc). Most of the funds sequestered will come from the Congressional Printing and Binding account, but since GPO is required to produce what Congress requests, funds may need to be borrowed from the Revolving Fund if a shortfall is reached. No furloughs will be needed unless revenue coming into the Revolving Fund suffers a serious decline. Vance-Cooks emphasized that individual printers at the state level could be hard hit, since 75 percent of GPO's work is contracted to private sector printers. Rep. Wasserman Schultz emphasized that these cuts will lead to less accountability since less information will be available to the public.

 

Rep. Wasserman Schultz said that too many members use GPO as a "political football" since the word "printing" in the name associates the agency with waste, when in fact GPO is an "accountability agency." She also agreed with NAPA that GPO needs to modernize and shift its focus to disseminating and preserving content online. Acting Public Printer Vance-Cooks picked up on Wasserman Schultz's point about the word "printing" in the agency name by saying she supports an agency name change to the "Government Publishing Office. "

 

At Wednesday's hearing on LC, several members of the subcommittee expressed strong support for the Library, calling it "Congress's jewel." Librarian of Congress James Billington focused his testimony primarily on the impact of sequestration. He said sequestration will substantially harm the number of items the Library can acquire. In addition, the Copyright Office will develop a backlog of copyright claims; the number of books LC is able to preserve through mass declassification will be reduced by as much as two-thirds; and the National Library of the Bind will not be unable to convert as many as 5,000 legacy titles.

 

The GPO and LC FY2014 budget requests are expected to be released to Congress today, March 1. With much focus on sequestration and continued funding for FY2013, this year's budget process has fallen behind schedule. However, you don't need to wait to start influencing your members of Congress. Use our Legislative Action Center to find your members' committee assignments and let us know if your legislators are members of the subcommittees on the Legislative Branch; Financial Services; Labor, Health and Human Services; or Commerce, Justice and Science. These subcommittees make important recommendations for funding levels that dictate what agencies like the Government Printing Office, Institute for Museum and Library Services, Legal Services Corporation, Library of Congress, and National Archives and Records Administration will have the resources to do. We'll help you craft a message to educate your lawmakers on their important work.

 

For more information on the federal budget, listen to recording (registration required) of our recent online training, "Making Sense of the Federal Budget Process" for an overview of the annual budget process, its effect on law libraries, opportunities for your influence, and a look at where we are today. The PowerPoint slides are also available on AALLNET

 

Sunshine Week 2013

The 9th annual Sunshine Week will take place from March 10-16th. Sunshine Week is a national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information. Participants include news media, civic groups, libraries, nonprofits, schools and others interested in the public's right to know.

 

Sunshine Week events are scheduled around the country. Here in Washington, DC, AALL will again co-sponsor a Sunshine Week webcast with OpenTheGovernment.org on Friday, March 15.  This year's program will celebrate National Freedom of Information Day at the Newseum, with a specific focus on the future of open government. Small panels will feature topics including FOIA and proactive disclosure, spending transparency, declassification, and ethics disclosure. See the agenda for more details and stay tuned for information on the webcast.

 

On Capitol Hill, the Senate Committee on the Judiciary has scheduled a hearing entitled "We the People: Fulfilling the Promise of Open Government Five Years After the OPEN Government Act" for Wednesday, March 13 at 10:00 a.m. EDT. The hearing will be webcast and features Melanie Pustay, Director of the Office of Information Policy at the Department of Justice, and Miriam Nisbet, Director of the Office of Government Information Services at NARA. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is also expected to hearing, though details have not yet been made available.

 

Visit the recently updated Sunshine Week website for information about events in your area. The site is designed to help continue the dialogue on open government year round.  You'll find a Reading Room with highlights from reports and commentary, a Toolkit and Idea Bank to facilitate brainstorming, and a helpful FOI Resources section offering information on a wide-range of open government topics.

Act Now  

 

Ask Congress to Support FASTR

On February 14, the bipartisan Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR) was introduced in both chambers of Congress. Senators John Cornyn (R-Tex.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) introduced the bill in the Senate (S. 350) and Representatives Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) and Kevin Yoder (R-Kans.) in the House (H.R. 708).

 

Previously known as the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA), this bill would make scientific research funded by the U.S. government freely accessible by American taxpayers in an online database.

The federal government funds over sixty billion dollars in basic and applied research annually, most concentrated within 11 departments/agencies (e.g., National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF), and Department of Energy) and resulting in a significant number of articles being published each year. Members of the public have a right to access research funded by their taxpayer dollars. FASTR will make these articles freely available for all potential users to read. In turn, the bill will accelerate scientific discovery and fuel innovation. AALL recently joined twelve national and regional library, publishing, research and advocacy organizations in thanking the sponsors for introducing FASTR.

 

Using our Legislative Action Center, write to your Senators and Representative today and ask them to co-sponsor FASTR and support public access to scientific research funded by American taxpayers.

AALL in the States   

 

Join Us for AALL's First Local Chapter Lobby Day, April 18

DC-area law librarians are invited to attend AALL's first-ever Local Advocate Lobby Day on April 18! Join AALL's Government Relations Office staff, local chapters, and AALL members (and those willing to travel!) for a special advocacy training and meetings on Capitol Hill. In the morning, you'll learn about our priority issues and best practices for successful meetings, and in the afternoon you'll attend pre-scheduled meetings with your members of Congress and/or their staff to advocate for AALL's policy positions. The Lobby Day will run from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with breakfast, coffee, lunch and an afternoon snack provided. There is no registration fee for AALL and chapter members!

 

According to a 2011 survey by the Congressional Management Foundation, 97 percent of congressional staff say that in-person visits from constituents have an influence on the member. These lobby visits provide an important opportunity for you to make or solidify relationships with your lawmakers. As law librarians, members of AALL are not merely constituents; you are experts who represent not only yourselves, but your profession, other librarians, and your patrons. Exercise your influence to make a difference for your libraries! 

 

Participants will have the opportunity to visit the Library of Congress, Law Library of Congress, and Folger Shakespeare Library during afternoon free hours. RSVP to Elizabeth Holland at eholland@aall.org by April 1.

 

Progress on UELMA 

The Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (UELMA) has been introduced in eight states this year and continues to make progress with support from the AALL Government Relations Office, chapters, and members. 

  

Most recently, the legislatures of Illinois and Oregon introduced the bill. In Minnesota, the House of Representatives voted last week to pass the bill, which now awaits consideration by the Senate. In mid-February, Connecticut's Joint Committee on Judiciary received testimony in support of UELMA from AALL Immediate Past President Darcy Kirk, SNELLA Past President Nancy Marcove, State Librarian Ken Wiggin, Yale Law School Library Director Blair Kauffman, Chair of the Connecticut Bar Association Law Librarians Section Jonathan C. Stock, the Secretary of the State, and the Connecticut Business and Industry Association. In Hawaii, State Law Librarian Jenny Fujinaka,  Uniform Law Commissioner Ken Takayama, and Roberta Woods,  Reference & Instructional Services Librarian at the University of Hawaii testified at both House and Senate hearings. HB 18 has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which already reported the Senate bill. Yesterday, the Nevada Senate Committee on Judiciary received testimony from Sandy Marz, retired director of the Washoe County Law Library, and Chad Schatzle, Student Services Librarian and Assistant Professor at the University of Nevada Las Vegas Law School.

 

To trace the progress of the Act across state legislatures, see our 2013 UELMA Bill Tracking Chart.

 

LLAM Library Legislative Day 
Submitted by Joan Bellistri, LLAM GRC chair

The Annual Maryland Library Legislative Day was held on February 13. Librarians from across the state came from a variety of libraries, including public, school, academic and special libraries. There were at least 11 law librarians attending. (Catherine McGuire, Ann Baum, Julie Shenk, Susan Herrick, Johanne Greer, Jackie Curro, Don Osborn, Monica Clements, Mary Jo Lazun, Joan Bellistri and Tonya Baroudi.) 

 

The day began in the Anne Arundel County Public Law Library where there was a breakfast briefing. The Law Library Association of Maryland provided the breakfast and Mary Baykan, chair of the Maryland Library Association, went over the issues of concern this year. After the briefing, the group of more than 30 librarians walked to the State House where it was proclaimed Maryland Library Day in both the House and the Senate. Joan Bellistri, LLAM's GRC chair was invited to be one of the librarians on the floor when the proclamation was read in the Senate. Also on the floor was Maureen Sullivan, President of ALA and a resident of Anne Arundel County. Next year, LLAM plans to have the President of AALL, Steve Anderson, on the floor. The rest of the day is usually devoted to visits with legislators, but this year LLAM provided a lunchtime program on legislative history. Catherine McGuire of the Maryland State Law Library presented on Maryland Legislative History and Pamela Craig of the Library of Congress provided a demonstration of Congress.gov. The day ended with a reception for the Governor, Lt. Governor and legislators and their staff that is attended by librarians and library board members. The event allows those in attendance even more time to develop relationships with their representatives.

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