U.S., Canada tighten controls over government information

Richard Fidler rfidler at cyberus.ca
Tue Nov 12 09:38:13 MST 2002


>From an editorial in the L.A. Times, November 8:

>> Office of Management and Budget Director Mitch Daniels wants to transfer
control of information management from the printing office to individual
Cabinet agencies. That would spell the end of the current system, in place
since the Jeffersonian era, which requires executive branch agencies to send
their documents and reports to neutral librarians, who then make them
available to the public both online and in 1,300 public reading rooms
nationwide.

Daniels would replace that system with a more secretive one in which
individual agencies would manage -- and possibly sanitize -- their own
electronic databases.

Currently, a federal agency such as the Pentagon can't delete an
embarrassing passage from a historical document without first going through
the hassle of asking each reading room to obscure the passage with a black
marker.

If Daniels gets his way, all an agency will have to do is call up the
document in Microsoft Word and quietly hit Control X to delete the passage
for eternity.<<

Full: http://www.latimes.com/la-ed-info8nov08,0,7711960.story

And a parallel development to the North (the following is excerpted from a
letter by an official of the Canadian Library Association now circulating
among librarians):

>> Communication Canada, a federal government department responsible for the
Depository Services Program, has very recently and unexpectedly announced
that they will be realigning the DSP under the department's publishing
operations.

As you may be aware, the Depository Services Program ensures public
accessibility to government information. The DSP also acts as a government
information safety net. The DSP achieves these goals by supplying libraries
in Canada and abroad with the latest government publications in all formats.
In turn, these libraries provide local access to this information in an
impartial and professional environment.

The library community has worked with the DSP for 75 years to help ensure
Government of Canada information is available to all Canadians.
Unfortunately, this reorganization is occurring without any consultation
from the library partners or the public. Concerns have been expressed about
the long-term viability of the program if reorganized under Communication
Canada's publishing division.

The reorganization could drastically curtail public access to government
information, the program's mandate and budget, and input into the
administration of the DSP from the library community. <<


Richard Fidler


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