government information

Lecture at UofT: Disturbing developments in digital government

If you find yourself in Toronto on Friday, February 6th, be sure to register for and attend this event on digital information management in Canada.

Click here to learn more and register.

Disturbing Developments in Digital Government
Professor David Brown will speak about concerns in digital information management in Canada.

Digital technologies have dramatically increased government’s ability to collect, use, re-use, store and disseminate information. The federal government has made clear its intention to move towards digital information management, yet its efforts thus far have lacked coherence. Causes for concern are plenty: from the deterioration of the Access to Information and Privacy regime, to the shutdown of government depositories and libraries, to collection and surveillance activities in the name of national security, to the hyper-centralization of government communications, and the foundering of the Open Data initiative. Prof. Brown’s lecture will examine the state of digital information management in Canada, and what we can expect going forward.This event will be moderated by Professor Ian Clark.

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David C.G. Brown is an Assistant Professor in the School of Political Studies in the University of Ottawa. After studying at the University of Toronto (BA, MA in political science), he spent a career in the federal public service, working in the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages, the Department of External Affairs, Privy Council Office, the British Cabinet Office, Treasury Board Secretariat and the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency. Among his Treasury Board Secretariat responsibilities he was for four years Executive Director, Information, Communications and Security Policy. After working in the Public Policy Forum, an Ottawa-based think tank, he completed a PhD in political science at Carleton University in 2011. From 2012-14 he was a SSHRC Post-doctoral Fellow at the University of Ottawa. For several years he chaired the international committee of the Institute of Public Administration of Canada and later was a member of the executive committee of its international counterpart, the International Institute of Administrative Sciences (IIAS), including three years as IIAS President.

Call for chapters: Government Information in Canada

Changing technology and the policies that drive it have radically altered the government information landscape in Canada. It’s time to document the context, tools, and techniques used to produce, acquire, organize, preserve, and access government information in Canada. We intend to do this via an edited book with the working title Government Information in Canada and encourage you to contribute to this project.

In the space of ten to twelve chapters, we expect to provide a platform for practitioners to present overviews, comparative studies, research papers, and case studies on these potential topics (note that individual topics may be combined into a single chapter):

  • High level historical overview, bridging the gap between Bishop’s 1981 Canadian Official Publications (Oxford) and the present.
  • Recent structural changes and current state of major federal systems:
    • departmental libraries
    • Depository Services Program
    • Library and Archives Canada (government collections only)
    • Canada’s Open Government Initiative
  • Overview of provincial publishing, depository systems, and access structures
  • Digital developments
    • digitization
    • digital curation and preservation
  • Communities of Practice
    • library associations, conferences, Government Information Day
    • advocacy and advisory committees

Please submit a 300 to 500 word abstract about the chapter you wish to submit, noting the proposed title of the chapter and authors, to Sam-Chin Li before April 1st, 2015.

 

Important dates:

Intent to submit: April 1st, 2015

Notification of Acceptance: June 1st, 2015

Full Chapter Deadline: December 1st, 2015

Review Results to Authors: April 1st, 2016

Revised Chapter Due: June 1st, 2016

Note: publisher to be secured by May, 2015

 

Web page: https://sites.google.com/a/ualberta.ca/wakaruk/research/cfp2015

 

Editors:
Amanda Wakaruk
Government Information Librarian
University of Alberta Library
Amanda.wakaruk@ualberta.ca

Sam-chin Li
Government Information Librarian
University of Toronto Libraries
Samchin.li@utoronto.ca

CLA responds to the Canada’s Draft Action Plan on Open Government 2.0 Consultation

The CLA believes that access to the widest variety of information and points of view is critical to the functioning and evolution of a democratic society. Citizens, organizations, and governments make better, more informed decisions when they take part in a free exchange of ideas facilitated by open, affordable, equitable, and timely access to information.

It is with such values in mind that CLA responds to the Government of Canada’s Action Plan on Open Government 2.0 Consultation, with specific recommendations to support openness, transparency, and access to and the preservation of government information in Canada.

Read the full response here

Cuts to Statistics Canada are Harming Canadians

The CLA recently released a statement in response cuts at Statistics Canada. The below text is an abstract – please click here for the full statement.

“… Recent programme cuts and policy changes at Statistics Canada have made it more difficult than ever for Canadians to track changes to critical issues that affect their communities, such as unemployment rates or the education of our children. The replacement of the mandatory long-form census with the National Household Survey, at a significantly greater cost, and the cancellation of many social surveys has made it increasingly challenging, if not impossible, for municipalities, hospitals, schools, and government agencies to administer social programmes and to track their success. In some cases, municipalities are financing their own surveys to gather the critical data they once had access to through StatCan (see full article for reference). StatCan cuts and changes are continuing to impede effective planning for all agencies, making future programming a costly gamble. Additionally, with all levels of government focused on social and economic innovation, it is imperative that municipalities have the ability to look back on trends in order to plan for the future with reliable data…”

The Lyon Declaration

The Lyon Declaration on Access to Information and Development was launched at the IFLA World Library and Information Congress in Lyon, France, 15-22 August 2014. The Declaration focuses on the UN’s post-2015 development agenda, currently being developed, and includes important statements on the access to and the preservation of government information, including the recognition on behalf of signatories that:

Information intermediaries such as libraries, archives, civil society organisations (CSOs), community leaders and the media have the skills and resources to help governments, institutions and individuals communicate, organize, structure and understand data that is critical to development. They can do this by:

Preserving and ensuring ongoing access to cultural heritage, government records and information by the public, through the stewardship of national libraries and archives and other public heritage institutions.

The full text of the Declaration is available here. Please share widely.

Lyon

Government Information Day | Journée d’information gouvernementale

Save the date!

The University of Ottawa Library, with sponsorship from the Carleton University Library, is organizing a one-day conference, Government Information Day, scheduled to take place on Thursday, October 16th, 2014 at the University of Ottawa’s downtown campus.

Last year, Government Information Day was held at the University of Toronto and we would like to continue last year’s valuable discussion. We are currently in the process of developing the program. The broad theme will be focused around collaboration, with presentations and panels organized around two proposed subthemes: (i) preservation and access and (ii) open government.

Government Information Day is designed as a forum for keeping current on ongoing changes, but also for exploring how we can collaborate and respond to emerging and ongoing challenges and opportunities in the field of government information in Canada.

Stay tuned for more details and registration information.

If you have any questions, please, feel free to get in touch with us at gsg@uottawa.ca.

CDNGOVINFO

Marquez votre calendrier!

Organisée par la Bibliothèque de l’Université d’Ottawa, sous le patronage de la Bibliothèque de l’Université Carleton, la Journée d’information gouvernementale est une conférence d’une journée qui aura lieu le jeudi 16 octobre 2014 au campus principal de l’Université d’Ottawa.

L’an dernier, la Journée d’information gouvernementale a eu lieu à l’Université de Toronto et nous aimerions poursuivre la discussion entamée. Nous sommes à présent en voie d’élaborer le programme de la Journée. Le thème général sera axée sur la collaboration, et comprendra des présentations et des tables rondes structurées autour des deux sous-thèmes proposés: (i) la préservation et l’accès et (ii) la transparence gouvernementale.

La Journée d’information gouvernementale, est non seulement conçue comme une instance ouverte pour permettre de rester à l’affût des changements en cours, mais aussi pour examiner les façons de collaborer et de répondre aux défis et aux occasions qui se posent dans le domaine de l’information gouvernementale au Canada.

Des détails supplémentaires et de l’information relative à l’inscription seront bientôt disponibles.

Si vous avez des questions, n’hésitez pas à nous les faire parvenir à gsg@uottawa.ca.

Consultation: Open Government Action Plan 2.0 | Plan d’action du Canada pour un gouvernement ouvert 2.0

This workshop will be taking place at the CLA Conference in Victoria on Thursday, May 29th, 2014 at 2:30pm. Mark your calendars!

Cet atelier se déroulera le jeudi 29 mai 2014 à 14 h 30 à la conférence de l’ACB à Victoria. Marquez vos calendriers!

Open Government Action Plan 2.0

As part of developing Canada’s second Open Government Action Plan, the Open Government Secretariat is facilitating conversations with public interest groups across the country. The purpose of this session is to provide a brief overview of Federal Open Government in Canada and solicit your ideas on what activities the government of Canada should include in the Action Plan.

Session Outline:

  • Presentation and discussion on why open government is important
  • Interactive workshop where participants work together on ideas for the Open Government Action Plan
  • Group reports and plenary discussion
  • Wrap up and next steps

By attending this session you will learn about Open Government initiatives and have the opportunity to share your thoughts and ideas on the direction this global movement should take in Canada.

Plan d’action du Canada pour un gouvernement ouvert 2.0

Dans le contexte de l’élaboration d’un deuxième Plan d’action du Canada pour un gouvernement ouvert, le Secrétariat du gouvernement ouvert dirige des discussions avec des groupes de défense de l’intérêt public de partout au pays. La présente séance a pour but de donner un bref aperçu du gouvernement ouvert fédéral au Canada et d’obtenir vos idées quant aux activités que le gouvernement du Canada devrait inclure dans le Plan d’action.

Principaux points de la séance :

  • Exposé et discussion au sujet de l’importance que revêt le gouvernement ouvert.
  • Atelier interactif au cours duquel les participants travaillent ensemble pour dégager des idées au regard du Plan d’action du Canada pour un gouvernement ouvert.
  • Rapports de groupe et discussion plénière.
  • Récapitulation et prochaines étapes.

Cette séance est l’occasion de vous renseigner au sujet des initiatives connexes au gouvernement ouvert et de présenter vos réflexions et idées à propos de l’orientation que ce mouvement mondial devrait prendre au Canada.

#CRL_Leviathan Session 3: New Models of Stewardship: An Agenda for CRL and North American Research Libraries

Government Records and Information: An Inventory of the Major Threats and Challenges YouTube-logo-full_color 
Bernard Reilly, President, CRL

  • Major threats and challenges:
    • Scale of the challenge > the enormous and constantly growing volume of information and government records being produced, as well as data being collected and disseminated > now must use computer-assisted research and applications to analyze this content for decision-making, preservation, context-generation, etc.
    • The unknown unknowns > we don’t know what we’re missing  and we don’t know the size of what we’re dealing with > this makes prioritization, decision-making, and the framing of a preservation strategy very difficult
    • There is no longer a distinction between what’s a government record and what’s a government document > in the digital realm these terms are almost interchangeable > a lot of material falls in a grey area (is an agency website a government record or document?)
    • We’re facing reductions in capacity and funding in the big organizations that have traditionally been trusted with the long-term preservation of government information > at the same time, these organizations are being asked to do much more and the reality is that they will only be able to do less
      • These institutions will play different roles in the future > NARA could be a collaborator with government agencies in decisions on systems used and adopted to produce and manage government documents and records – there has been start to this process with the development of NARA guidelines on this topic
      • Different priorities of higher education institutions > used to be stewards of information and content needed by researchers, but there are so many pressures on these institutions and the return on investment is farther in the future, which makes it harder for institutions to provide support
    • Larger role of tech companies and cloud > in the short term these companies support the maintenance of digital content and in providing services for use and discoverability of this content > social media companies sometimes considered to be de facto repositories > must use caution, as content could easily disappear
    • Bigger role of private companies like ProQuest mediating use and access to government content > increasingly these companies are in possession of data about how the content is being used, which could be very valuable for libraries
    • Must get a better understanding of civic-minded organizations > these organizations are in the government information supply chain > there are many things we don’t know about the systems of private organizations that are storing government information and how the finances of these organizations work > there is a lack of economic transparency

Panel Discussion: Prospective Roles and Actions for Libraries and CRL YouTube-logo-full_color
Mary Case, University Librarian, University of Illinois at Chicago

  • Who gets to determine the value of the information? Governments, scholars? > there is tension between the desire of scholars to have everything available and how we manage all of this information with the laws and rights that govern it
  • The technologies do exist for improve metadata creation and document tracking, but it is not yet being applied in the domain of government information
  • We need to rebuild the connection between records managers and content creators > re-education on importance of documents for institutional memory and our ability to move forward
  • A big challenge lies with the fact that everything has become data > there is a push to ensure that all information can be mashed, taken apart, and recontextualized in some manner
  • When we talk data, we’re being encouraged to get closer and closer to the point when the data is being created > moving up stream will be critical for us
  • When trying to address the challenges of born digital information we need to think outside the FDLP box and find ways to do more, collaboratively
  • What can research libraries do?
    • Tell the story and explain why preserving government information is important, why any government data is critical for our present and our future
    • There are several local and regional consortia > can we model and do pilots with local and regional governments and researchers to see how we might manage information more locally
    • Urge more movement above stream (encourage GPO and NARA to put out best practices – don’t wait)
    • Have more conversations > can we figure out how to agree with ProQuest and others to create a trusted digital repository where if the company goes out of business we can maintain access > we can’t keep replicating

Brent Roe, Executive Director, Canadian Association of Research Libraries

  • Government information needs to be held independently of government > what role do research libraries have in this?
  • Some realities in Canada:
    • At the federal level, we need to work with government information in both languages
    • Crown copyright at the federal level (still 50 years)
    • Potential constraints on what researchers can do with information, but policy allows quite liberal use of content
  • Some current developments:
  • Many existing initiatives bring together research libraries and government information:
  • Maybe we don’t need to keep everything? We should consider this perspective
  • It may be most logical for us to simply buy what’s provided by third parties because we don’t really have the capacity to preserve everything ourselves
  • Is there a way that research libraries can collaborative on web crawls? > each institution could be responsible for different domains or agencies
  • Research libraries have an important advocacy role to play
  • How to find money for these new opportunities / projects? > we need to come around to the idea that we may have to start and hope that the projects will get supported in the future

Ingrid Parent, University Librarian, University of British Columbia and former Assistant Deputy Minister, Library and Archives Canada

  • The situations in Canada and the United States have many similarities and differences, but what is clear is that a lot needs to be done
  • Support at the international level is needed to ensure long-term accessibility and integrity > generally not enough is happening > in European libraries the focus is on copyright exceptions for libraries and e-lending and digital government information is not top of mind
  • National archives and libraries are addressing some challenges, but there is little collaboration
  • Many questions about who does what, how do we do this at the international level, and who pays for what?
  • PERSIST: UNESCO Digital Strategy for Information Sustainability > helping secure mechanisms of good governance and access to information, government documents are part of this scope
  • There is no one organization that can tackle the issue of born digital government information > collaboration with a variety of stakeholders will be key
  • There is a group in INFLA that deals specifically with government information and this may be a way for us to bring these issues to the international stage > perhaps an advocacy statement can be drafted to take to the international level
  • We are all struggling with digital big data, but the technology is there to be used creatively to meet our objectives and we should embrace and explore this > let’s be ambitious and pragmatic

Conclusions: a New Strategic Framework for Collective Action by North American Academic Libraries and New Multi-year Priorities for CRL
Bernard Reilly, President, CRL

  • Analysis > we need to know more about what we don’t know > how gov info is produced, managed, and distributed and how gov records are declassified > more about systems and software involved inside governments > more about the organizations tasked with long-term management of government information > more about commercial actors, NGOs, and civic organizations > more about the consumption and the uses of government data and records
    • Need to locate and exploit expertise within the CRL community > collections development communities, libraries, people that know gov info and data, etc.
    • Need to know more about what’s at risk > the problems with declassification and things going missing > many problems seem to be in the access pipeline
    • In danger of losing material from foreign governments with unstable regimes and corrupt governments
  • Communicate > we need to tell the story better > articulate what we want and what we need
  • Audit > We need to audit commercial repositories and preservation repositories
  • We need to stop talking about e-government and paperless government documents as if they are manageable within the framework of the FDLP
  • Do we really want to put so much money in web archiving? What are we getting out of it? Is what we’re archiving going to be used? Should we focus more on at risk data that will matter if it disappears?
    • We should look more closely at the research being done by social scientists, economists, historians, etc. who are using web content and have stake in the near-term preservation of content

#CRL_Leviathan Session 2: Libraries and the Information of Governments

Keynote: Approaching Leviathan: The Dangers and Opportunities of “Big Data” 
John S. Bracken, Director, Journalism and Media Innovation, Knight Foundation
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  • How to deal with big data is only half the story > we must also focus on organizational culture and adaptation or we lose track of the importance of culture and people
  • There is so much data now > what’s important is the process, what you do with it, and the talent you build around it > we must adapt and create a bridge between traditional skills and new quantitative approaches
  • There is skepticism about technology and our reliance on it and this is colliding with the emerging culture of break things and focusing on future and the next challenges
  • How does the civic sector do a better job of adaptability to build the tools that people want and need?
  • “Make something people want or move on” outlook is much harder to accomplish in civil society
  • The biggest cognitive switch we need to make is enabling ourselves to make mistakes
  • The Knight foundation works in the space of news and journalism, but links it to the community > learn more about the Knight Foundation here: http://www.knightfoundation.org/

Government Records and Information: Real Risks and Potential Losses 
James A. Jacobs, Data Services Librarian Emeritus, UC San Diego, and technical advisor for CRL Certification Advisory Paneldfd
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  •  There are many gaps in what we know: no list of born-digital government information, no list of all government websites, no list of preserved born-digital gov info
  • What we do know: FDLP libraries have preserved millions of volumes of non-digital government information and most born digital information is not held, managed, organized, or preserved by libraries
    • Preservation is at the mercy of budgets and social priorities > risk increases if  persevering agency is the creator and doesn’t have preservation as mission or if preserving agency governed by politicians
  • The production of digital documents is far outpacing what’s being done to preserve these documents
  • Key issues:
    • Versioning
    • The need for persistent URLs
    • The need for temporal context (ex: link to version of document or site that author linked to at time of publication and not updated version)
    • E-government issues (e-gov often hides information behind services > how to we preserve this information)
    • Relying on government for preservation and free access (most agencies do not have the mandate to preserve indefinitely – this is even the case for GPO)
    • Collections need services to provide important context for interpretation
  • When we create dark archives we’re not creating a value for our community > we need to create immediate value for our users
  • Who should preserve?
    • Option one: the government alone
    • Option two: the government with non-governmental partners (ex: GPO + LOCKSS-USDOCS)
    • Option three: non-governmental organizations without government cooperation (ex: Internet Archive)
  • There are different methods for selecting what needs to be preserved (the solutions should be mixed and the issue should be tackled collaboratively)
    • Broad web harvesting (ex: Internet Archive)
    • Focused selection (ex: by agency or title by tile)
    • Digital deposit (ex: deposit by creators to memory institutions)
  • When planning for preservation focus on different user-communities: don’t look at the web and decide what to preserve, look at the web and preserve based on what users will need
  • Every library should participate in digital preservation > it’s about building the value of libraries > collections and services should be reliable and useful > shared collections and services can be built with different contributions – not all libraries have to be data centres
  • Summary of key points:
    • Preserve born digital government information – the technology exists
    • Every library can and should participate
    • We can add value to the information by building collections of use to our user communities

The Digital Future of FDsys and the Federal Depository Library Program: A Public Policy Analysis 
R. Eric Petersen, Specialist in American National Government, Congressional Research Service
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  • Challenges
    • Access and service (tangible, digital, or both?)
    • Costs (Less print distribution, but still costs libraries to maintain
    • FDSys – there is no good model for permanent digital retention > we will have to update software and touch digital assets to make sure access continues > ongoing investment and responsibility required > every 8-10 years will require entire overhauls and updates
    • Born digital materials > identification, retention, preservation, service
    • Tangibles > retention, digitization, consolidation, service
  • Lack of consensus around:
    • What is to be captured > how to count – websites / documents vs. records
    • How to capture and by whom > GPO / FDSys, originating agencies, third parties
  • Legislative change is slow without clear agreement regarding the solutions among stakeholders
  • Before Congress will engage, we need clear proposals that are broadly supported and offered by stakeholders and interested parties > they must cover issues such as enduring standards for digital retention, who collects and retains born digital content and tangible content, and how the costs will be managed

Panel Discussion: New Models of Access: The Role of Third Party Aggregators and Publishers
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Susan Bokern, VP, Information Solutions, ProQuest

  • We all have different roles to play and there’s enough content to go around
  • ProQuest’s essential role is to add value to content
  • ProQuest is focusing on researchers and the improvement of workflow processes to create new research output > enabling researchers to access content more efficiently, providing tools to improve workflow, visualization and analysis tools, not just about content but also about context
  • The process of adding value begins with market research (surveys, advisory boards, focus groups to identify known and unknown needs) > creating acquisitions strategy to develop collection > preserving content or data > keeping the technology up to date > identifying where and how to obtain the content
  • ProQuest takes preservation seriously > content is stored on their own servers > currently exploring a longer-term storage and preservation solution (ex: Iron Mountain)

Robert Lee, Director of Online Publishing and Strategic Partnerships, East View Information Service

  • East View is an aggregator for academic institutions and a variety of international governments
  • Some example projects: GIS, big data, political rallies ephemera
  • Big focus on content from Russia and China > not usually seeking or producing translations, but going after the information and data that’s not always available elsewhere or not the same as what’s provided in English
  • There is an operational risk is that the information received could later be reclassified
  • In China, content can be made available and digitized very quickly but it can also disappear or be blocked quickly, too
  • Interested in exploring cross-platform solutions for content

Robert Dessau, CEO, voxgov

  • Voxgov harvests materials from over 10K web destinations each day > every 6 mins the system looks for new URLs > 49 diff types of documents (fact sheet, social media, congressional, federal register, speeches, etc.)
  • The collection process has evolved rapidly > learned to identify when a website’s format has changed to maintain quality intake of data > 18-22%, depending on the group, falls into the broken link category
  • Interested in tracking conversations from beginning to end to allow a much deeper and more comprehensive level of research
  • The involvement of third parties in the preservation and access process is inevitable
  • Mining the text we have to bring value has not yet been realized