[govinfo] GovInfo News 10-2-2006

  • From: pmcdermott@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • To: "govinfo@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <govinfo@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>, "FOI-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx" <FOI-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 2 Oct 2006 11:52:32 -0400

- Why is federal government so secretive? It's classified

- Public Libraries Burdened With E-Government Services, Says Florida Study

Patrice McDermott, Director


202-332-OPEN (6736)



EDITORIAL Austin-American Statesman


Thursday, September 28, 2006

President Bush's pique at having to surrender some of a report by our American 
intelligence agencies assessing the war on terror will undoubtedly be 
interpreted in predictable â and wrong â ways.

Of course, our commander in chief is distressed, his finger-wagging supporters 
say. He had to give up the innermost secrets of our war on terror to our 
enemies after traitors in his own administration leaked some of them to the 
equally traitorous press.


What you won't find in this report, with or without a decoder ring, is a single 
state secret, a single nugget of information that, in the wrong hands, could 
mean our nation's doom. The content of the report makes it abundantly clear the 
president should have released it in the first place. It ought to make every 
American, regardless of political stripe, wonder what made the president so 

Here is an informed guess, based on past performance: From the day he took 
office, long before Sept. 11, 2001, this president has been on a single-minded 
mission to control the flow of government information by keeping it from the 
public. From 1953 to 1976, through the heart of the Cold War, six presidents 
chose to invoke the privilege to classify a document a state secret a total of 
six times, according to an annual report card on government secrecy by 
nonpartisan analysts OpenTheGovernment.org. Bush has done it 22 times since 

Bush has nearly doubled the number of government-produced documents he 
classifies annually, according to the report card. He has chosen to declassify 
four times fewer documents than his predecessor, President Clinton, did in his 
last year in office, the report says. Americans, in turn, have more than 
doubled their requests under the Freedom of Information Act over the past six 
years to more than 4.1 million and at an estimated cost to process of $7.7 


â There was almost certainly a political motive for those in the 
administration who leaked selected and damning parts of the intelligence 
assessment to the newspapers. But the decidedly nonsensitive content of the 
assessment itself suggests a political motive in the president's decision to 
classify it.

This is not to suggest that there is nothing that should be kept secret in a 
time of war. The president withheld the full text of the intelligence report, 
presumably for national security reasons. But the president damages any case 
for classifying material with a knee-jerk secrecy that demonstrates only 
contempt for free, open and, above all, informed debate.




Public libraries need more funding as they are increasingly becoming de
facto e-government sites for everything from disaster relief to medical
drug plans By News Release

Public libraries need more funding as they are increasingly becoming de
facto e-government sites for everything from disaster relief to medical
drug plans, according to a new Florida State University study, from
Tallahassee, Fla.

Government agencies are now referring people to public libraries for
access and assistance with online services, a trend that is perceived by
many librarians as both an opportunity and an unfunded mandate, said FSU
College of Information Professor John Carlo Bertot who, along with FSU
Francis Eppes Professor Charles R. McClure, research associate Lesley
Langa and Paul T. Jaeger of the University of Maryland, conducted the
2006 national "Public Libraries and the Internet Survey." The final
report on the study will be posted Oct. 1 at


To control their own costs, federal and state agencies are shifting the
burden of e-government to public libraries with little regard for the
impact on these front-line service providers."

About 64 percent of the 4,818 library personnel who responded to the
survey indicated that their information technology budgets were not
increased over the previous year, and 5 percent said the technology
budgets were actually cut, Bertot said. While 45 percent of the
respondents said their library did receive an increase in operating
funds, nearly all of those funds went to salaries and benefits.


Knowing some clients do not have Internet access, many government
agencies send them to public libraries to apply for benefits and
complete forms that are available only online. Even when they don't need
a computer, many people are going to public libraries for help in
understanding government services, as the survey respondents said was
the case last year with the new mandatory Medicare prescription drug
coverage plans.

Many librarians said they have become ad hoc experts on everything from
student loan applications to tax documents, but others indicated they
need more training if they are going to help members of the community
with these types of government services.

Libraries also are increasingly being called upon to provide disasterrelief, a 
function that is causing additional strain on resources,
Bertot said. The survey found that almost all libraries provide expanded
Internet access to emergency service providers and the public during
disasters, such as hurricanes. In addition, many libraries are being
used as shelters, and one library in Florida actually runs the emergency
call center during disasters.

Some libraries have tried to respond to the increased demand by adding
more public computers and wireless access for those who can bring their
own laptops, but the lack of money, space and technology support has
hindered their efforts, Bertot said. Still, the survey indicated that
more than 36 percent of libraries now have wireless access.


The study was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the
American Library Association.


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