Impact of Information Advances in the 21st Century
2000 FLICC Forum on Federal Information Policies
A Summary of Proceedings
March 30, 2000Library of CongressWashington
The Federal Library and Information
Center Committee (FLICC) was created in 1965 as the Federal Library Committee
by joint action of the Library of Congress and the Bureau of the Budget
(currently the Office of Management and Budget). FLICC is composed of
the directors of the four national librariesthe Library of Congress,
National Library of Medicine, National Agricultural Library, and the National
Library of Educationand representatives of cabinet-level executive
departments, legislative, judicial and independent federal agencies with
major library programs. The Committee is chaired by the Librarian of Congress.
FLICCs purpose is to
make federal library and information centers' resources more effective
through professional development of employees, promotion of library and
information services, and coordination of available resources. FLICC is
also responsible for making recommendations on federal library and information
policies, programs, and procedures to federal agencies and to others concerned
with libraries and information centers.
FEDLINK is an interagency
cooperative program sponsored by the Library of Congress and FLICC. FEDLINK
offers any federal agency, through its library, information center, or
other information-oriented office, the opportunity to enhance the information
resources available to meet the requirements of its personnel. Using FEDLINK
service contracts, participants obtain services directly from commercial
sources. These contracts usually provide substantial discounts not available
to individual customers. For both large- and small-volume users, this
approach secures favorable terms assuring lower costs. Through FEDLINK,
agencies may obtain cost-effective access to a number of information or
operations support services including: online reference databases from
major commercial vendors, online cataloging and interlibrary loan services
of bibliographic utilities, technical processing services of qualified
contractors, and ordering and publications control services of book jobbers
and serials subscription agents.
The FEDLINK program for acquisition
of information retrieval services operates under the Library of Congress
delegation of procurement authority. Arrangements to initiate payment
for these and other appropriate services are authorized by the Economy
Act and are governed by interagency agreements executed by participating
federal agencies and the Library of Congress, acting on behalf of FLICC.
In addition to providing cost-effective library bibliographic services
and other library services and products, FLICC/FEDLINK has functioned
as a center for evaluation and education about new library and information
For further information about
our services, write FLICC, Library of Congress, Washington, DC 20540-5100;
telephone the FEDLINK Fiscal Hotline, (202) 707-4900, fax (202) 707-4999;
or send an electronic mail message via the Internet to [email protected].
M. Tarr, Executive Director, FLICC
- Emerging Issues on Managing
Information Resources, February, 1984
- The International Flow
of Scientific and Technical Information, February 27, 1985
- Federal Information Policies:
Their Implementation and Implications for Information Access, February
- Views of a Concerned Community,
February 25, 1987
- The Impact on Competitiveness,
March 7, 1988
- The Congressional Initiative,
March 22, 1989
- Access is the Key, March
- Building Information Superhighways:
Supercomputing Networks and Libraries, February 15, 1991
- The Future of Government
Technology: Money, Management, and Technology, March 17, 1992
- Governments Role
in the Electronic Era: User Needs and Governments Response, March
- Informations Roles
in Reinventing Government: Delivery of Government Information, March
- The Life Cycle of Government
Information: Challenges of Electronic Innovation, March 24, 1995
- The Publics Information:
Striking a Balance Between Access and Control, March 19, 1996
- Clear Signals? Telecommunications,
Convergence, and the Quality of Information, March 6, 1997
- Adapting to Reinvention:
Getting Results in Government Publishing, March 19, 1998
- Copyright, Electronic Works,
And Federal Libraries: Maintaining Equilibrium, March 10, 1999
The annual FLICC Forum on
Federal Information Policies is arranged under the auspices of the FLICC
Education Working Group chaired by Sandy Morton-Schwalb, Government Printing
Office. Each year, volunteers from the FLICC Education Working Group serve
on the Ad Hoc FLICC Forum Planning Group which is composed of information
experts. The ad hoc working group selects the Forum topic, identifies
speakers, and helps to prepare the Forum program. FLICC wishes to express
its appreciation to the FLICC Education Working Group; Georgette Harris,
Network Program Specialist, FLICC; Mary Berghaus Levering, Associate Register
for National Copyright Programs, Library of Congress; and Prosser Gifford,
Director, Office of Scholarly Programs, Library of Congress.
written by Jessica Clark
The primary purpose of federal
libraries and information centers is to support the missions of their
agencies and optimize their organizations knowledge assets. As the
21st Century begins, important questions arise:
- What are the future roles
of federal organizations and how will their use of information affect
- How will Congress exploit
direct electronic links to their constituents?
- How will citizens use
electronic communications to influence the decisions of their representatives?
- How will market forces
and communications enhancements change the goals and performance of
- What impact will faster,
more comprehensive information sources have on the U.S. judicial system?
- Concomitantly, how must
information services transform themselves to enhance the intellectual
capital of the three branches as the U.S. government faces the challenges
of the next millennium?
The rate of change in information
technology and the increasing speed of communications are transforming
the international marketplace, causing dramatic changes in the government
institutions served by federal libraries and information centers. Some
analysts believe that within one or two decades, there will be more fundamental
changes in what the U.S. government is and does than have occurred in
the centuries since the nation was founded.
If the missions and structures
of federal agencies are about to undergo drastic change, what role can
and will federal information services play in this transition? FLICC Forum
2000 will focus on the impact of the continuing information revolution
on the programs and structures of the U.S. Government during the next
century. To explore this topic, the Federal Library and Information Center
Committee (FLICC) has invited economists, technologists, legislators,
judges, program managers, information specialists and others to present
their views and discuss their opinions about the future context for federal
library and information services. Previous FLICC educational programs
have viewed this upheaval from the perspective of the library and information
professional. FLICC Forum 2000 is entitled Government Futures
to connote the relationship between our federal infrastructure and the
economic and market forces that are shaping its evolution. It will look
at the future impact of the changes in information from the perspective
of the agencies in the three branches of government. Clearly, the ongoing
missions of federal libraries and information centers are inexorably linked
to the benefits derived by the public and the nation from their parent
agencies programs. Thus, understanding the potential for change
in federal agencies is essential for keeping federal information services
vital into the future.
The federal governmentthe
legislative, executive and judical branchesis comprised of weighty
institutions that are slow to change. But the fast-paced information economy
does not wait for slow institutionsit bypasses them. On March 30,
FLICC will look at the need for change not just in libraries but in the
larger institutions of which they are a part.
and Presentation of FLICC Awards:
Susan M. Tarr, Executive
Susan M. Tarr, Executive
Director of the Federal Library and Information Center Committee, welcomed
FLICC Forum attendees. She explained that FLICC was formed in 1965 by
a joint action of the Bureau of the Budget and the Library of Congress
to provide a vehicle for federal library coordination and resource sharing.
"FLICC's mission is
to foster excellence in federal library and information services through
interagency cooperation. Although the FLICC staff are headquartered here
at the Library of Congress, the membership of the committee represents
all three branches of government and the full range of services provided
by the more than 2000 libraries and information centers in the federal
sector," said Tarr.
"This morning, we wish
to commend the many innovative ways federal libraries, librarians, and
library technicians are fulfilling the information demands of government,
business, research, and the American public. To recognize this outstanding
service, I am pleased to honor the winners of the second annual FLICC
Awards. We presented the very first awards at last year's Forum. Again,
this year, the FLICC Awards Working Group screened all nominations, and
the federal library leaders on the FLICC Executive Board made the final
Tarr noted that this year's
Forum was being made available live via the Internet to more than 20 federal
libraries outside of DC. "This is our first attempt to let the worldwide
federal library community participate in the Forum, and if we are successful
with this test, we hope to welcome it up to all comers next year,"
she said. "So, welcome to our Internet viewers."She then introduced
Dr. James Billington, Librarian of Congress and official chair of FLICC,
to present the awards.
2000 Federal Librarian of
An abundance of highly qualified
librarians with outstanding, innovative and sustained achievements in
2000 resulted in a tie for this category:
Sherrie M. Floyd, Chief,
Army Library Program, Vicenza, Italy, is recognized for her innovative
leadership, entrepreneurial spirit, enthusiasm and determination to negotiate
and guide the successful development, outfitting and staffing of two U.S.
Army libraries in Bosnia. While working under austere and potentially
dangerous conditions, she enhanced the Army's peacekeeping mission in
the Balkans by providing services that supported the mental and physical
well-being of soldiers, built morale and cohesion, and improved the quality
of life through recreational, social and educational reading.
Carlynn J. Thompson, Director,
Research Development and Acquisition Information Support Directorate,
Defense Technical Information Center, is recognized for her active
and innovative leadership and professionalism in the provision of information
services. She is an acknowledged expert on both technical and policy issues
associated with Web development, privacy and information security, network
operations and management. Her information science background provides
the basis for her understanding of client requirements, end-user interfaces
and content management. Her skills make her a leader both to the Department
of Defense and to the federal information community at large.
2000 Federal Library/Information
Center of the Year
The Scientific and Technical
Information Center, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office,
is recognized for increasing examiner knowledge of, and access to, electronic
and print resources by determining mandatory search sources, identifying
alternative information resources, creating desktop tools, developing
and delivering training on framing search strategies and on searching
commercial databases and full text Internet tools. Working with focus
groups, the center determined performance standards, collected both quantitative
and qualitative data from users as indicators of customer satisfaction
and published reports describing its contributions to the organizational
mission. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Library and the U.S. Agency
for International Development Library received honorable mention.
2000 Federal Library Technician
of the Year
Darcy Bates, Library Technician,
Electronic Information Center, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO),
is recognized for personal initiative, technical skills and rapport with
customers. His willingness to respond to emerging customer needs resulted
in a dramatic increase in the demand for information services and created
a group of satisfied and repeat customers. His ability to rise to new
challenges and deal with a rapidly increasing workload while maintaining
high customer service standards has contributed to the growing success
of PTO's recently established Electronic Information Center. Carolly J.
Struck, of the U.S. Naval Hospital Medical Library, Great Lakes, Ill.,
received honorable mention.
James H. Billington, Librarian
of Congress and ChairFLICC
Dr. James H. Billington,
the Librarian of Congress, complimented FLICC award winners on their dedication
to teamwork within the federal library environment. All of the important
work in libraries is done with teamwork, he said. Libraries
always involve a team effort, particularly in this digital age. Libraries
have a complex and very important service mission to perform.
He welcomed attendees to the
16th annual FLICC Forum on Federal Information Policies and noted the
Forums continuing mission. During the more than 15 years of the
Forum, he said, we have witnessed enormous changes in the technologies
of information retrieval and exchange. A key question now is how will
market forces and communication enhancements that are happening very rapidly
change the goals and performance of government service? Another question,
is how must information services transform themselves in order to
enhance the intellectual capital of the three branches of government?
The enormous growth
of this industry right around Washington is a dramatic indicator of the
way in which the government and new information technologies are going
to have to be in better contact. The market is recognizing this,
Dr. Billington said, and we at the various agencies are certainly
noticing it as well, and becoming involved.
Dr. Billington said that the
Library of Congress has played a lead role in this fast-paced information
economy in making sure that the national library continues to fulfill
its fundamental mission of making its resources available and useful to
Congress and the American people, and in sustaining and preserving the
universal collection of knowledge and creativity for future generations.
The fact that the published
world continues to increase by 7 percent per year alongside the digital
explosion shows that the inflow of information and the need for maintaining
a universal collection is of undiminished importance, Dr. Billington
said. In the long run, as information is increasingly disseminated
digitally, it is important to have an ingathering as well as a sharing
of this knowledge if this country is to sustain its leadership position
in this information-based age.
He said that the Library continues
to use the newest information tools to create an environment where it
pursues its traditional Jeffersonian purpose of increasing the knowledge
available not only to Congress and to scholars, but also to individuals
in their local communities, schools, colleges, and private-sector research
enterprises. Those Americans who are far from great universities
or great public urban libraries can still have access to the best of the
nations heritage, and the latest in updated information, Dr.
Billington continued. An informed citizenry is the foundation of
a democratic government, and the new technologies make it possible in
new ways for our entire citizenry to have more and more of the newest
and best information.
Dr. Billington noted that
the need for librarians has never been greater, because users need someone
on the spot to be the knowledge navigator for their particular community,
interest, or concerns. He explained that the Library of Congress entered
the information revolution relatively early in its history by creating
the American Memory Project in the late 1980s and the National Digital
Library Program (NDLP) in the mid 90s. These initiatives now have put
7 million items of American history and culture online free of charge.
Acting under the directive of the 104th Congress to make digital legislative
information freely available to the Internet public, a Library of Congress
team brought the THOMAS on-line in January 1995, and in just five years,
THOMAS has increased the number of files transmitted annually tenfold
between 1995 and 1999.
The Library of Congress
will continue to use new information technology in this, its bicentennial,
year to share its celebration with all Americans of the world, as well
as to make other Library events accessible through traditional and innovative
channels. In the last year, he said, the Library cybercast a variety
of multi-day symposia that anyone with an Internet connection could view,
including Democracy and the Rule of Law in a Changing World Order, which
involved several Supreme Court justices, along with people from more than
30 different nations. Also available is the proceedings of a major symposium:
Frontiers of the Mind in the 21st Century, similar to what the
Library had done at the St. Louis worlds fair at the beginning of
the 20th century, gathering in minds from all over the world.
Even as we at the Library
push our own boundaries and the current limits of information technology,
we are trying to combine the futuristic with the traditional, said
Dr. Billington. Im always fascinated by the combination of
a new technology with old materials. By hosting physical exhibitions here
at the Library and creating virtual twins online, I think we can help
people explore important material no matter where they are.
In this time of change,
those institutions and enterprises that seize opportunity from innovative
technologies will offer their constituents and customers the excellence
that the 21st century demands, as well as the memory of past centuries
that might otherwise seem to be erased as we always get the latest version,
he said. We are committed not only to preserving this past, but
to sharing it with the future, and we join FLICC in sponsoring this Forum
so that all libraries and information centers can be poised to meet the
information needs of government no matter where the future takes us.
Dr. Billington then introduced
the Forums Keynote Speaker, John Perry Barlow, noting that some
had called him the Thomas Jefferson of the Internet.
A Vision for the 21st Century
How will societal
shifts, brought on by a world market driven by the changing role of
information and communication, affect the public's requirements and
expectations for government services and programs?
John Perry Barlow, Electronic
Keynote speaker John Perry
Barlow opened his remarks by confessing a "modest ambition":
to eliminate broadcast media. "I have no desire to be a broadcast
media," he said. "I'm going to say a few things to set the tone
of the dialogue we are going to have here, but I hope that there will
be time for us to actually be interactive. Cyberspace is an interactive
medium, and I hope it helps teach us how to have discourse on many levels."
"One of the great pleasures
of my life these days consists of encouraging librarians and discouraging
lawyers," Barlow said. " I cannot tell which is more gratifying."
Barlow told the story of
a meeting with a very highly placed Senator several years ago. "He
had his office call me up and say that he had been thinking about this
cyberspace thing, which seemed to be increasingly important, and he allowed
as how he did not know much about it, which I was immediately inclined
to respect him for because he was the first person in Congress willing
to admit this, despite plenty of evidence that there were others. He asked
me to come in and spend an hour and a half with him, telling him everything
that I felt was important for him to know, and he demonstrated an extraordinarily
long attention span, and was thoughtful and the questions that he asked
were extremely to-the-point, and he seemed to be getting it."
At the end of this, Barlow
continued, "the Senator said 'What you are telling me is that the
government should do nothing about this phenomena.' And I said 'yeah,
that's about it.' And he said 'do you know how hard it is for us to do
nothing?' And I said 'well it looks easy to me!' But then he said 'no,
do you know how hard it is for us to appear to do nothing about something
that is really important?' And I said 'well, you have a challenge there.'
And he thought for a moment, and said 'perhaps you could help me in coming
up with things that would look like something, but not actually be anything.'"
"I wish I could have
been able to do that," Barlow said, "but, unfortunately, there
have been other partieswell-funded ones at thatwho have stormed
Capitol Hill in the last two years, and in the service of extending what
I believe is their fairly limited lifespan as institutions, have done
grave damage to the future of free expression, fair use, libraries, and
the potential of cyberspace to be what I think it should be, which is
the ultimate repository of all human knowledge."
"I'm referring to a
series of bills that have been passed that fundamentally change the nature
of copyright," he said. "Now, there are reasons they were passed:
the Internet poses a very grave challenge to all of the institutions which
have risen since Gutenberg. For the materialization of thoughtin
any time prior to this oneif I wanted to take some part of my cranial
cavity and its ideational contents and try to implant those thoughts in
other peoples' minds, about the only way I could do that on any broad
scale was to take those thoughts and put them into a manufactured item,
like a book or CD, and have those items distributed, usually at considerable
cost, to other people who might be interested."
"But," he said,
"there is now a system whereby anybody, anywhere, can take whatever
the human mind can produce and reproduce it infinitely, and distribute
it to anyone who might be interested, at zero cost. This is a reality,
and it gravely threatens all of those bottling and packaging and shipping
institutions that have existed to this point. They are fighting for their
lives, and in the process have managed to get Congress to pass several
things that severely threaten the future of free speech. These bills criminalize
copyright violation, and the impact that is going to be profound, because
government is now going to be asked to take the role of the traffic cop
in a battle that is going to erupt on a very broad front between what
is considered to be appropriate public use of materials on the Internet,
and legal use under these new, or even existing, copyright laws."
"I think this is going
to be a very messy contest," said Barlow, "because I can tell
you now that the citizens of cyberspace, which increasingly includes practically
everyone, have a very wide interpretation of the term 'Fair Use.' It is
generally believed by most people online that if something is interesting
and valuable, it should be copied and passed on, and generally is. I think
that you will see, if you examine your own behavior, that there is probably
no one in this room that hasn't committed a copyright violation, and probably
a lot of them recently."
He asked audience members
to raise their hands if they did not have bootlegged software on their
home computers, and noted the unusually high percentage of hands raised
in this audience. "Usually no more than five to ten percent of the
hands go up," Barlow said, "which indicates to me that there
is a social practice that has already been essentially affirmed, that
is divergent with the law. We now have a very large percentage of the
population that think very little of breaking these laws and do it routinely.
And I would say, in general, that every time you have a disparity of this
measure between accepted social practice and law, it is not social practice
that changes, no matter how severe and draconian the efforts to enforce
the law may become."
"But," he said,
"the government will nonetheless be asked to enforce the laws, and
the place that they will be asked to do so most painfully and often is
at the library. Libraries increasingly make resources available online,
as they should."
"I do not know what
is going happen over the next five years with regards to copyright, but
I do know what is happening now online,and it provides a serious threat
in the very near term."
Barlow offered Napster.com
as an example. "Napster is the brainchild of an obscure 19-year-old
college dropout who realized that a lot of the music that he wanted to
hear was not available online, because the record companies owned itrather
than the artistsand they would not allow it to be available despite
the willingness of the artists to make it available. So, the best work
of the 20th century was not available for downloading, but this did not
mean that it was not out there, this kid realized. So what he did was
to create an indexing system for people's private hard disks."
"Anyone who signs up
with Napster makes the MP3 files on his or her own disk available to anyone
who logs into Napster. Napster stores no files at all, and therefore is
not vulnerable to charges of copyright violation. What it does do, though,
is make literally millions of MP3 filesalmost all of them copyrighted
materialavailable. You get those files directly from the individual
who has them. The burden of trying to go out and prosecute the millions
of individuals who were already making files available on Napsternot
even the RIAA is ready to take on just yet."
He spoke about another site
that extends the Napster format to all sorts of materials: users can place
anything they think should be available into a partition on their hard
drive to be shared. This program, the name of which he could not recall,
is based on an anonymous Web-serving system, which makes it nearly impossible
"This is a technological
development that, I think, drives a stake into the heart of the traditional
stakeholders," said Barlow.
"I have always thought
it was kind of odd that publishers and record companies and their ilk
thought they had to own the information that they were distributing,"
he noted. "It made about as much sense to me as Federal Express claiming
to own the contents of all of the boxes they ship everyday. On the other
hand, when I go back to the beginning of American copyright law and look
at what Jefferson and Madison had in mind, they were not so concerned
about incentivizing the likes of Tom Paine, who was going to write
Common Sense no matter what; what they were more concerned about was having
the works of the likes of Tom Paine distributed as broadly as that book
was. It was distributed very broadly. In fact, not long after its publication,
something like two thirds of American households had a copy of it."
"So what Jefferson and
Madison set out to do," Barlow said, "which was somewhat different
from what was being done in Europe, was to protect the conveyance of information.
And that is the thrust of American copyright law, to a large extent. It
is not about protecting the creator, it is about protecting the distributor.
And at this point, when there is another distributor, we have a serious
"I do not believe that
the publishing, recording, or film industries are going to be able to
hold onto their current model," he said. "I think they will
break, but a lot of librarians are going to be asked some very tough questions
in the course of that transition. You are going to be the ones on the
front lines, and that is going to take a lot of courage. But I must encourage
you to think about the long term."
"We are at an extremely
pivotal moment in human history. We are creating the foundations of the
architecture of the political environment of the whole planet for a very,
very long time to come. Architecture is politics, and the technical and
legal architecture of cyberspace in this opening phase will determine
its flavor. The question you have to ask yourself is whether you really
want this to be the greatest free place that has ever been, and to give
that to your descendants as an open forum for anything that people might
wish to discussor whether you want to close down that great conversation
at the beginning in order to protect a group of interests highly funded
at the moment, who are, in my opinion, moribund and obsolescent in any
"I do not think that
publishing has a promising future," said Barlow. "I think the
music business as we know it will be essentially dead inside of five years,
and something else will arise in its place, which is the musicians' business,
and the audience's business, and a direct relationship between those two
without the intermediation of the recording industry."
"It could be maintained
that these industries have a useful role in selecting that which is most
pertinent and valuable, and helping to reduce the signal-to noise ratio.
I think there is plenty of evidence to the contrary," he said. "What
they can generally do is make something from nothing, as groups like 'N
Sync prove, but they do not show a great capacity to make something big
from something really wonderful and little. On the other hand, the Internet,
if it is allowed to operate as freely as it should, so that people who
find useful material can pass it on to their friends for noncommercial
purposes, then almost anything of value has the capacity to become as
widely recognized as it needs to be. Therein lies the potential for economy
in the future work of the creator. People will no longer be paid for work
that they have done; they'll be paid for work that they haven't done yet.
To my view, that's somewhat more incentivizing."
"There are a lot of
different models for a lot of different kinds of information provision,
and we could get into those in the course of the discussion, but just
so you don't think I am for giving this all away and letting the artists
starve forever, let me give you my own experience with the Grateful Dead,"
"Back in the early 1970's,
we saw that deadheads were taping our concerts, and we had the traditional
industrial-period attitude towards this: we thought that they were stealing
from us, taking our intellectual property," he said. "So we
kicked them out. Not good for your karma to be mean to a deadhead; they
are a fairly hapless lot. We were not long on conscience, but we had enough
to feel pangs watching the baleful glances as these kids went out of the
stadium. We thought 'Well, you know, we are not in this for the money
anyway,' which was a convenient thing to say, since we were not making
any. 'We are in it for the joy of giving them what they are taking, so
let them take it.'"
"What we did not realize,"
he told audience members, "is that we were creating the most incredible
marketing engine that I have ever seen. Those tapes, and their free reproduction
and transmission among deadheads, became the currency in a rapidly spreading
market that became so large that by the time that we actually did die,
in 1995, we could fill any stadium in America any time we wanted to."
"This was largely by
the expediency of hauling our audience around with us," he joked,
"but we could, because we were incentivized to make each concert
new. They already had the last concert, so we had to make it new every
time, which meant they wanted to hear it every time, and they wanted to
pay for something that could not be reproducedthe actual experience
of being there at that concert. That was quite different from the information,
and always will be. We ended up becoming almost ridiculously wealthy as
a result of this charitable giveaway program. I think that this is not
a unique condition. I think that anytime you have something valuable,
to let it reproduce will increase your value."
"There is a very different
economic paradigm in information than in material goods," said Barlow.
"In the physical world, there is an obvious relationship between
scarcity and value. As a consequence, much of the economy of the physical
world is based on regulating towards scarcity, and that is part of the
reason that we have a lot of people in the social and economic conditions
that we do. It is not that the human race is not capable of producing
a lot more, it is just that it is not in the best interest of the producers
to produce enough for everybody."
"With information, on
the other hand, there is a complete reversal of this proposition. With
information, there is a relationship between familiarity and value, so
the more widely known something is, the more freely it is distributed,
the more valuable it becomes, or the more valuable the future work of
the creator. This economy is something I think we need to come to terms
"I am not merely concerned
about the liberty of my descendants," he said. "Although I think
that's my chief concern, but I am also concerned with the economics. I
want to see creators actually get paid for what they do, and as things
stand and have stood for quite a long time, few who create are paid appropriately.
The musician gets less than five percent of the retail dollar for those
packages of music sold at Tower Records. Nearly all of that goes to even
more creative people, like the lawyers and accountants of the record companies."
"The same applies to
book publishing; there is an awful disparity between what the author gets
from the sale of a book and what the publisher and retailer get. I want
to see that change, and when it does change, you are going to see an outflow
of human creativity which is going to astonish everyone. I do not worry
much about the signal-to-noise ratio, because in this kind of environment,
where you have got the entire human race doing the sort on what is valuable
and what is not valuable, and in a position to distribute the fruits of
that sort widely, you are going to see a very different system for making
the editorial cut, one that is already working very well."
"So," Barlow asked,
"where are we going to proceed from here? What is going to be the
policy of, say, the Library of Congress? What are federal and state libraries
going to do about making materials available online? I personally believe
that the Library of Congress should not admit any further books without
having the digital version of that book accompany it. In most cases, this
would not be an onerous burden to the creator of that book; it was digitized
at some point in its creation anyway. If you have the digitized version,
at some point will come the pressure to put the full text online. I think
that pressure is perfectly understandable and sensible, given that what
you have been trying to do is make as much material available to as many
people as possible for a long time."
"Now that you have dramatically
increased capacities to do so, I think it's in the instincts of the librarian
to want to do that," he said. "It is not in the instincts of
a library administrator to let the librarian do that, so you are going
to have a very tough job."
During the question-and-answer
period, Barlow told audience members, "I know the passion of librarian.
I want to say that I hope you will share with me the sense that your primary
responsibility is to be a good ancestor, to make certain that your descendants
have at their disposal all the works of mind, and I know that in your
hearts, that's what you want to do."
I: Legislative Branch
How will changes
in information and communication affect the U.S. Congress?
Vic Fazio, Senior Partner,
Clark & Weinstock, Inc.
Moderator: Daniel P, Mulhollan,
Director, Congressional Research Service (LC)
Vic Fazio, a senior partner
at Clark & Weinstock, Inc. and former California Congressman, began
the discussion. "For the 18 years that I served on the Appropriations
Committee, I served on the legislative branch subcommittee, and 14 years
chairing the subcommittee that funds the Library of Congress," he
said, "so it is always good to get back in touch with those whom
I worked so closely with all of those years.
"Let me say that they
way that Congress is reacting to changes in information technology varies
tremendously from one office or member to another," Fazio said. "That
largely is reflective of who is using the Internet: it is a generational
issue, and may be related to the kinds of economies that people represent.
The representatives that are far more likely to deal with new economy
people are far more advanced in their personal and office habits of dealing
with the increasing flow of information. Members from parts of the country
that are dominated by the old economy perhaps, unless they are uniquely
interested, have not felt the pressure to change. Pressure is what makes
change occur. People who are in elected office, if they want to stay there,
need to respond to the changing approaches and issues that affect their
"I am sure there are
members who have full-time staff responding to email from constituents,"
he said. "They were under pressure to set up Web sites, to make sure
that their office was wired appropriately to be able to use computer technology
in the early years, and now they are inundated, just as so many Web sites
in the dot-com world are that are designed to get input from people or
give them a way to connect with the government or the political system."
"There is a vast increase
in this kind of communication going on, but again, it would vary from
district to district," said Fazio. "Members are generally aware
that they are suddenly reaching, and being reached by, a new element.
There is no question that there is a growing awareness that this can become
a problem for them; inundation is always going to become a problem in
allocating staff. It is, on one hand, a wonderful breakthrough to talk
to people you have perhaps not heretofore been in touch with, but it also
stresses the system. We have had periods when we were so overwhelmed by
this type of communication that we cannot really use our equipment for
any other purpose."
He identified another drawback
to the new technology. "Members are aware that they are now being
contacted not just by motivated individuals, but just as we are through
the mail and on the telephone, by a number of organizations who have figured
out how to use the system," he said. "We have as much grassrootsand
something that is not grassroots, call it Astroturfdriven by people
with an axe to grind. We find that we are just as vulnerable to contact
from organized action groups who have found a way to increase contact
through email into members' offices."
Fazio gave an example. "In
many cases, members do not know where these people are from and why they
are emailing. A woman today, a member of my delegation from San Francisco,
had an amendment on the floor yesterday, and as a result of coverage on
C-SPAN, she began to get a lot of email. She was talking about using some
of the money allocated to fight the drug war in Columbia to assist some
of the people to break their dependency on drugs. She wasn't in a position
to determine who the people were who were trying to reach out to herthey
could be from New York or Houston as well as San Francisco."
"Members today continue
to be focused on their district," he said, "who they are elected
by, who they need to communicate with interactively. Maybe people in your
state, depending on how large the state is and how many representatives
it has, but the degree to which we look beyond our borders will continue
to relate to the kind of state we are from. Most members, I hate to say
it, are not interested in the opinions of those who do not vote for them.
The new communications technology does not give us much help in that regard."
"So," he asked,
"do you ignore a plethora of inputs from people and assume that they
were not your constituents, or do you answer them all and assume that
it was worth the effort because you got to those you should get to? This
is one of the questions really confounding members of Congress. And how
much time do we devote to interactivity? Some people think we're just
another chat room, and they really want to have a little give and take.
They think 'why can't I get my representative to do that?" Well,
in most cases, members are not sitting around answering mail, period.
They may make some time for phone calls, do town halls and radio shows,
and make some calls in the eveningespecially those from the West
who are not interrupting meals and keeping people upbut there is
not a lot of time to sit in the office and engage in a chat. Do you put
staff on that? Some have, but many cannot find a lot of time to interact
Fazio said that many members
are responding to electronic communication in the traditional way, "taking
down comments and sending them the good old-fashioned letter. I am sure
that is less than appropriate and less than acceptable for a lot of the
people who want immediacy. They are not used to waiting, and they want
you to be instantaneous. It is an impractical kind of belief that people
Yet, "Congress itself
is becoming just as impatient," he noted, "and I am sure some
of you will see the evidence of that. They want your information immediately.
It is not because they are imperious and demanding by nature, it is in
part because the people that are pressuring them are anxious to get a
response, and members of Congress are feeling the need to respond in the
most timely manner possible."
"The question that continues
to intrigue me is just how helpful is all this information?" he said.
"Are we talking to new voters, people who are just beginning to connect
with the system? Democracy obviously demands that we are constantly finding
new ways to interact, and this may bring a new generation, one that has
been somewhat disassociated from government into the fray. But is it just
information for its own sake, just exchanging factoids? Is there any thought
going on? Any contemplation? Do we change anybody's mind or open them
to new thoughts or new approaches even if they do not abandon their old
position? That is what politicians need, what elected officials seekthat
is a way of not only getting educated, but educating others. The teacher/preacher
part of the job requires that you not just say 'thank you for your letter,'
but instead say 'well, here is where we agree, and here is where we do
not, and here is why.' That is what helps educate the body politic, not
just a reactive 'thank you very much.' Although some members still think
they can get away with that, I think more and more have moved beyond that."
"When you provide information,
you want to know more about why it was requested," said Fazio. "You
want to learn for yourself, and you want to make sure you are not missing
an opportunity to communicate with somebody about something you care about.
Proactive members of Congress who are aggressive in this kind of information
exchange are on the rise in terms of their numbers. People who are content
to just be a conduit, another place to connect people who seek information
or knowledge are on the decline."
He suggested that members
of Congress who are experiencing rapid changes in their roles due to information
innovations are the least prepared to analyze it. "It is just washing
over them. Millions of hits on Web sites that are right on targetVoter.com,
etc.hoping to make a profit by communicating with the system for
people who are comfortable with the technology. Members are doing what
they have to do to deal with issues, and this sort of change is swirling
around them. I think they are beginning to realize that they have common
problems, and they are trying to work through some of those, but I think
they are also frankly convinced that the one thing that is constant is
further change at a rapid rate, so they are not expecting to ever catch
"It truly is a generational
issue," said Fazio, "and it is not likely to be any different
in Congress. The number of members who sit with a computer on their desknot
just as an ornament, not just to look relevant, but to use it and be in
touchis growing, and it is a factor of age. Those at the other end
are still wondering why it is catching dust on their desk, but at the
same time, they cannot be immune from what they know is going on in the
world around them."
"I was recently involved
in a survey with my colleagues about their knowledge of technology and
their facility with it," he said. "One of the things that was
common to almost everyone is that they learned more from their families
about technologies than anywhere else. It is their personal involvementwhether
it is to get last night's basketball scores from the West Coast that do
not show up in the Washington Post the next morning, or some other thing
like an e-Bay trade that they wanted to make, that broke them through
and exposed them to a broader system, which they now have begun to navigate.
I would anticipate over the next 10 yearsand maybe we should get
used to cutting that in halfwe are going to see a lot more interest
in how Congress as an institution responds."
"Today, I think we are
led by people like you," Fazio told the audience, "who deal
with information. You are going through this transformation much more
rapidly than you might ever have assumed. We have been able to fund some
of the breakthroughs at the Library of Congress on the basis of a confidence
in the institution and the people who work in it, and a belief that, while
we may not personally benefit or need it, the society at large does. In
the future, I think there will be a lot more direct involvement in this
sort of stuff, which may give you more incentive to bring direct budget
requests to your agencies, but at the same time may complicate things
greatly, because micromanaging politicians can be the bane of almost everyone's
existence. That is the downside of the benefits of a broader awareness
and adoption of new technology in the process of government."
He addressed the controversial
issue of voting on the Internet. "Here is an institution that has
been for years looking for indications of whether there is any voter fraud.
The two parties are threatened by opening up a system to the private decisions
of individuals at home or at work, and not having voters go to that polling
"What is the loss of
community?" he asked. "At the same time, does it mean that no
one wants to go to town hall meetings anymore, that they just want to
interact on the Internet? What if they do not want to leave that space
where they are so comfortable? These are profound questions, and a lot
of us do not know what the answers are."
Fazio said that he had had
many young constituents who thought "Why do we need you? Why don't
you just tell us that within a time frame we should all wire in and let
you know what we think, come to some analysis of who won and who lost,
and that should be the law. We don't need people who earn too damned much
money and do not work very hard in between us and the government."
"Of course, I think
most of us would understand how naïve that is," he said, "but
there are plenty of people who do not see it that way. Direct democracy
is popular. People say 'let us help technology help us participate, so
I can stand back. I don't necessarily have to stand up at a meeting and
swallow and express my views; I can do that if I want, anonymously. I
can become an advocate, but I do not want to listen, to interact with
people. I just want people to know what I think, damn it!'"
"There is a lot more
of that than you would imagine," Fazio said, "and there are
those of us who become a little cynical because we deal with them all
of the time. They are out there in growing numbers, saying 'I do not have
time to go vote today, or to write a letter, or help organize around an
issue. It was not on my list of things to do.' This technology drives
us in the direction of isolation if we are not careful, from the decision
making process, which ought to be a collegial one, or at least one that
engages people, and not just gives them an outlet for frustration. It
is a real dilemma, and we are not going to change it by debating the good
and the bad; we are just going to have to hang on and react to the reality
of what is happening."
"I don't think politicians
are different from most institutions, but I think we are guardians of
the way in which the concept of the system of representative democracy
works," he said. "I think we have to be very thoughtful about
how information technology is changing that process."
Fazio then brought up the
issue of fundraising on the Internet. "John McCain had a wonderful
success at that, and others will follow, he said. "We have talked
about voting and other things, but the decision making process that leads
to all of that: is it just 30-second spots and ads on the Internet? Is
this adding to the things that most of us think are wrong with our current
system, or is it giving us some new directions, some new approaches that
might help repair some of the damage that we have largely done ourselves?"
Daniel P. Mulhollan
After it was announced that
Senator Burns would not be able to speak because a bill of his had been
called to the floor, Daniel P. Mulhollan, Director of the Congressional
Research Service (CRS), addressed the forum.
"Vic focused on the
notion that representatives do not know where the email is coming from,"
Mulhollan said. "For awhile, some people have been observing this
notion of collective representation; that is, if you are an Hispanic who
does not have an Hispanic-American Member representing you in Congress,
but you know there is the Hispanic caucus, you may feel as though those
issues that are important to you are being represented. So, too, if someone
is in a particular committee position, you will be paying attention to
that person if you are paying attention to those issues. The possibility
is that these forms of communications may expand the possibilities for
those Members who are standing for issues larger than their immediate
district constituency and their votes, particularly given the role of
campaign funding and financing, and to that extent that it would offer
some members more avenues for campaign funds."
"Next," said Mulhollan,
"as Vic pointed out, the demand of immediacy in a deliberative body
is very important. Right now, for example, we have noticed in CRS in the
past 10 years that hearings are shorter. It is impossible to see Members
for lunch; we now go to breakfast briefings, and they start at 7:30. The
demands made on the members' time are in part because of these kinds of
immediacies and pressures that he notes. These are really putting pressure
on the representational process, and the role of the republic as a whole."
He spoke about the rise of
associations' impact on the political process in the digital age. "Since
the time of de Tocqueville, the importance of the role of associations
in society has been noted. A number of serials librarians I know, and
political scientists, have noted the increase in specialized associations
and periodicals. How those associational roles will be aided and abetted,
or contoured by technology and the Internet itself is an open question,
but I would submit to you that it has a profound role not only in the
formation of associations and political parties, but in the role that
associations play. There is a political observer named Ostrogorski who
claimed in 1902 that one day there would be a thousand political parties,
and the function of political parties is to get a name on a ballot and
elected. What you have now are opportunities in technology for a multiplicity
of associations on very specific aspects, and the impact on the rest of
the republic itself is something to be discussed."
"For myself," Mulhollan
said, "I thought it was helpful to take a look at the various roles
that members of Congress play, one of which, an important one that Vic
identified, is the impact of plebescite democracy. Of course, he comes
from the state that is the king of plebescite democracy, and is a model
that political scientists have been paying attention to. This it is a
serious matterone that pundits comment on. I have not seen the research
about the role that the Internet is taking in the ballot structures yet,
but I think there will be some better understanding, using California
as a model, on how that might have some impact."
"The whole role of lobbying
and the pressures that arise, whether it is mass faxes, mass mailingsmost
offices can identify those at this point. As Vic indicates, it is increasingly
difficult when you are responding to those kinds of orchestrated campaigns
online; the house computers end up responding to the association computers.
So, that is going on right now, and the impact that technology has, and
the role that the individual might playwith the goal of [connecting
with] those who are in a state of anomieis still an open question,"
"I think it is very
important to note what kind of effect the technology will have on the
chamber itself," Mulhollan continued. "Already, the Library
of Congress and CRS, working with the House and Senate, have established
a digital legislative information systemfor which Thomas is the
public mirrorproviding immediate, continuously updated legislative
status information to the House and Senate members and staff. When it
comes to certain types of amendments, this will have a significant impact
on the chamber and how it works. Because oftentimes tactics have been
tied to the surprise amendment, or the amendment for which there is obscure
information and thousand-page bills introduced late in the evening. As
technology improves and access improves, increasing accountability is
there; it will change the decision making process."
"As new members come
in, as time goes on, there will be more of those incidents. At some point,
how will that effect deliberation, as you have members reading their remarks
from Palm Pilots? What will the role of immediacy be on what was a protected
community, on each of the chambers' floors?"
"Those are some of the
items I wanted to mention," he said. "It is clear to me right
now that on the House rules, there is an imperative for each committee,
to the practical extent possible, to make information available on the
Internet. There is a larger issue of how committee and member Web sites,
and the access and immediacy they provide, will be archived and presented.
Over time, that kind of information will be increasingly used in different
Q & A
During the question-and-answer
session, an audience member commented that she was concerned about the
question of representatives ignoring emails from interested voters outside
of their constituency.
"Your interest in hearing
people's opinions might not extend to your interest in responding to what
you hear," Fazio responded. "I think there are obviously other
related issues that members are interested in; all kinds of groups situated
in my region but not in my district. Under the system of dealing with
mail, we could deal with those issues. We could control what we chose
to respond to.Although Although we cannot use our office information systems
for fundraising, you are not going to ignore the concerns of those who
are contributors. Most of us have contributors that are far beyond our
districts. This is a very complex issue that is not going to be served
by a black and white test."
Another audience member expressed
alarm at the recent rash of last-minute budget bills. He expressed concern
that even members had not seen such bills, not to mention interested citizens,
and asked why information technology was not being used to distribute
such rushed legislation.
"The problem with these
large budget bills or continuing resolutions is a multi-faceted one,"
said Fazio. "They are in-and-of themselves a bastardization of the
process. We are supposed to pass 13 appropriations bills, and we have
not been doing that lately, or even when we do we open them back up and
add additional or subtract additional bits from the process at the end,
usually past the deadline for the new budget. That creates an impossible
situation for everyone in the Congress, let alone those of us who would
like to inform our constituents, let alone those who would like to be
informed. I do not know the solutions to that problem, other than to return
to normalcy with the way we deal with those bills, to have the appropriate
amount of time beforehand, not only to gather the information, but to
get it out to people who could then react to it."
The audience member commented
that citizens should have the right to see bills before they are passed.
"There is no question
that theoretically everyone would agree with you," said Fazio. "Congress
sometimes has a hard time compromising and coming to agreement. At some
point it is almost a matter of physical exhaustion. It is an amalgamation
of a number of small decision-making groups coming together. I think members
are resistant to a certain extent to requests from people who have some
information but not as much as you would like for them to have about why
we do this, and why we vote for compromises that do not reflect our own
principles. I can just see increasing pressure on Congress that might
end up in more stasis than anything else because they are getting hit
from so many angles by so many arguments, and they have to resolve these
Mulhollan added, "with
regard to the use of recurring legislation, some have argued that because
of the polarization and intensity of views in the country, that the representative
body is not doing that good a job; it is representing the extremes, the
polarity of viewpoints. Oftentimes, as a result, appropriations bills
and omnibus legislationrecurring legislation that has to be passedbecome
increasingly complex because it is the only train in town that can get
out of there."
"The authorizing committee's
jurisdiction is being eroded," Fazio said, "and that type of
bill, which should only theoretically be dealing with numbers and some
sort of direction to bureaucracy, becomes the vehicle for everything that
is happening in a given subject area."
"Oftentimes, the compromises
that are made are not publicized until they have been made," said
Mulhollan, "because if a representative takes a negotiation stance,
the constituency would be horrified with what they are offering...these
multiple kinds of tradeoffs that take place call for confidentiality until
the compromise is set, just like union or international negotiations.
This is a reflection of why you see some of the things that you do."
Another audience member reminded
the speakers of the growing disparity between computer-users, who are
generally white, middle-class, and educated, and those who do not have
access to computers or the Internet.
"As I said before,"
Fazio said, "the degree to which an office is dealing with the new
economy in their constituency often determines the degree to which they
are into email and other digital forms of communication. There is no question
that the digital divide, which is a major problem in every sense is just
as relevant in this debate as it is in any other."
An audience member from the
defense department commented on the fact that Department of Defense decisions
are often made on the basis of past actions rather than future projections.
"Technology offers great
opportunities and challenges to members," said Mulhollan. "Oftentimes
a basis of oversight is case work...there is an underlying element that
feeds from the grassroots that members pay attention to." However,
he commented, the legislative body also has access to research simulating
large bodies of data, such as the Census."This is also a challenge
to ensure that people are working with the same datasets," he said.
"I don't think we do
a very good job with oversight," said Fazio, "and we could do
better with the amount of information we have got now if we could deal
with some of the issues that Dan just outlined. I think generally we do
not do as good a job of projecting into the future, but there is a lot
more effort to do that because there is a big political payoff in being
able to project what is going to happen."
The final question addressed
concerns about the disappearance of Web sites belonging to members of
Congress, including Mr. Fazio's own site.
"I think that is an
issue that Congress hasn't really addressed yet, but they need to,"
said Fazio. Mulhollan said that he knew there had been a major effort
with regard to electronic archives at the National Archives. He also noted
that the Library of Congress had tried to get private funding to record
the Web sites arising from political primaries. "There is no systematic
effort on that, and that is just the tip of the iceberg. There's a tremendous
resource issue," he said.
"We are talking about
a Congress that has not had a historian in four or five years," Fazio
said. "That in itself is a problem for people that want even an official
retrospective, never mind the nuances. I also think that there is a chilling
effect on honest communication. You see it now in the White House, beset
by subpoenas for every piece of paper and email ever produced. What does
it do? It tells people, 'do not put it in writing, do not put it on your
computer, do not put it anyplace where anyone will, out of context even,
make a conclusion.' It is a serious problem impeding honest information
flow and candid conversation. We have had people go into the computers
of their predecessors in hotly contested districts and try to make political
hay out of what they thought had been erased."
"One member told me
that he tells his staff not to put anything in email that they wouldn't
want to see on the front page of Roll Call," said Mulhollan.
II: Executive Branch
How will government
programs change in response to innovations in information? How will
the dissemination of government information be affected?
David J. Barram, General
Emily Sheketoff, Executive
Director, American Library Association, Washington Office
Patrice McDermott, Policy
Analyst, OMB Watch
Moderator: J. Thomas Hennessey,
Jr., Chief of Staff, Office of the President, George Mason University
David J. Barram
David J. Barram, Administrator
of the General Services Administration (GSA), began the examination of
recent changes by saying, "I would like to give you a few of my thoughts
on the Executive branch. Since you know my background, you will know that
I am just visiting Washington, and so I have some pretty strong opinions.
I'll give you some of those; some might even feel like insight."
"When I think of federal
agencies," said Barram, "I think of three things that we do.
One is that we have lots of information. Another is that we make rules
and policies. Different agencies do this different ways. The third thing
agencies do is run some things, or provide some services. The Department
of Defense clearly does that, as do the Federal Aviation Agency, the National
Institute of Standards and Technology, the Department of Energy, and Social
Security. At the GSA we provide buildings, technology, and supplies to
our federal government customers."
"All of these roles
and things that agencies do are already being changed by digital information,"
he continued. "None of these agencies are the same as we were almost
four years ago. I'm always saying 'it's not your father's GSA' as a way
of emphasizing how we are changing. It is not even my older brother's
GSA; we're changing very fast. So how do you plan ahead in an environment
like that, trying to imagine how agencies will handle information?"
"I don't think that
you can think too far ahead in specifics," he said. "We have
to try to imagine the future 20 years ahead or longer, but I do not even
think it is too smart to think about how things are going to be 10 years
from now. And if you ask the wisest 80-year-old that you can find what's
happened in the last 80 years, the bulk of the significant things that
person would say probably occurred in the last 10-15 years. So, if you
imagine the life span of a 40 year old being 40 more years, and the rate
of change keeps accelerating the way it has...we've got a lot of stuff
ahead of us, coming real fast."
"So I think you have
to guess a little bit," said Barram. He noted a few startling recent
innovations, such as the mapping of the human genome, animal cloning,
and the explosion of personal digital assistants. "A lot of things
are changing," he said.
Barram offered an example.
"I am a big Stanford basketball fan, and you do not see those on
television here on the East Coast. I got up on the Internet and heard
the last few minutes of the game. So if I move around I can stay in touch
with my teamthat is a pretty simple paradigm. But what if I decide
that I want to watch Vince Carter and Jason Williams, pro players, wherever
they play? After awhile, I am watching them and not their team. But it
is a team game. Technology is dramatically changing the way we behave
toward what we are comfortable with."
"The new technology
gives you leverage to do old things better, then you start to think and
act in new ways," he said. "I think that is going to happen
much more rapidly than ever before. It is a revolution. We thought the
computer was a big revolution, that telecom wasI think those two
were just the serving tray for what has really happened."
Barram identified three "A
issues" that agencies should focus on in the foreseeable future:
Protecting the physical
safety and freedom of Americans. "The world needs us to remain
the dominant military power so that it is illogical to build up,"
he said. "But that puts a huge burden on us, one we are trying
to figure out and that is how to be an honest and strong broker in
the world. Domestic safety also involves creating safe and livable
communities, and that includes being environmentally sustainable.
That gets to the issues of crime, zoning, traffic, water, and I would
even add to that the idea of how we deal with bioethical issues. There
are information issues involved in all of these.
Protecting privacy. "We
want what this wild, rampaging Internet gives us, but we also want
privacy," he said. "Security is important, and sometimes
you can say they are the same, but people really want privacy. We
are willing to give up some information about ourselves for a discountwe
can be bought. But you cannot really buy what we think is privacy.
I think we are going to struggle hard with this issue."
Promoting a fair chance
for each of us to flourish. "First," he said, "to keep
markets fairI think that is what is behind the Microsoft case,
a very tough issue. We have to believe passionately that markets can
allocate well, but also accept that the pure market system sometimes
goes too far. Secondly, we have to work on providing a climate for
learning. Nothing seems more obvious to me that the future will go
to those who have critical thinking skills and the ability to access
knowledge and communicate it. Not having this as a goal of agencies
and the government would be unconscionable."
"All of this is dependent
on the explosion of information and our ability to move it around,"
said Barram. "So, I think people will expect agencies to be like
good enterprises, that figure out how to get and hold customers, and how
to get and retain good employees. That drives government agencies to act
like twenty-first-century institutions."
"That means focusing
on results, not jobs," he advised. "When people get up in the
morning, they should not just go to their jobs. They need to think 'getting
results.' They can do this in bed, in the car, on the plane, but it is
about getting results. Once an enterprise comes to understand that, it
has a chance to be successful, but if it is still about jobs, it's not
going to work."
"Agencies need to be
customer-driven, not organization-perpetuating," Barram continued.
They need to be employee-centric in order for employees to thrill customers
with their attitudes. If you have a mission to thrill the customer, it
pulls all of the right behaviors through the system."
said, "there is still an impulse in government where employees feel
the need to provide a service whether or not anyone wants it because they
have been mandated to do so. This impetus towards thrilling customers
bumps up against this mandated mentality."
Barram suggested that agencies
have to be flexible, not rigid. "The big question is how to do that
in a culture that values job security over customer service, or at least
does not realize how highly it values it as compared to the emerging values
of customer service elsewhere."
"The last point about
what people expect from a good enterprise is that we are going to have
to learn to share information," he said, "not dispense it in
droplets as the agency sees fit. If you think about information technology
and the incredible memory capacity and disseminating ability, it suggests
to me that we will have huge data warehouses of information, and a sharply
reduced need for rules of thumb because you can go to the base level and
recombine data however you want it. It is going to mean that skills of
good analysis are required, and that we will be making more decisions
at the front line--those people putting the information in and pulling
it out. That means we need fewer middle managers to dictate their brilliance
to the frontline worker."
"We are also going to
have to figure out a culture in the government where a mistake is OK,
and you would like a few good mistakes, so you could move things ahead,"
he said. "It is pretty hard in this town to find your name on the
front page of the Washington Post unless you were at a state dinner"
He suggested that it makes people cautious.
The fundamental question,
Barram said, "is 'what is going to be different?' I do not see any
way that government is not going to be dramatically different in the next
five years. Citizens are going to expect it and demand it, and I think,
even as strongly, the employees are going to expect it and demand it."
Emily Sheketoff, Executive
Director of the American Library Association's Washington office, said
that she would be bringing her previous experience in the government into
the discussion. "I am pretty new to the ALA, so I am getting quite
the crash course on library issues and information policy issues,"
she said. "I left the government looking for a job that was going
to be interesting, and it is true, you need to be careful what you wish
for. I feel like Goldie Hawn; I thought I was signing up for the army
with the condos, not the organization that is constantly under fire."
However, she said, "in my previous life, I was trained to be constantly
under fire: I was at OSHA. Some of my experiences there might be good
fodder for the conversation we are going to have."
"I joined OSHA just
as the new Assistant Secretary made his commitment to reinvention,"
said Sheketoff, "and he took an agency that was very unpopular and
constantly under fire by Congress, the public, and even the workers they
were trying to serve and tried to turn things around. He looked at what
was going on and decided that the way to start a very long journey was
with the OSHA employees. He needed to work with them, to train them to
look at their jobs differently."
"Instead of looking
at how many inspections they did, or fines they handed out, they needed
to look at the result," she explained. "OSHA was trying to make
the worker safer, and so they needed to look at everything they did in
that way, and needed to totally change their culture and the way they
went about doing their jobs, always thinking 'how can I make this situation
safer?' That really turned the whole organization aroundnot that
they are popular nowbut it had an immediate positive result. The
chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee, Chairman Porter, realized
that they were serious about this change, and that it was going to be
a long process, and rewarded OSHA for a number of years, in a Republican
Congress, with higher and higher appropriations. In the government, that
is success, more than almost everything else. It also meant that the fatality
rate went down, so American workers were becoming safer."
"The OSHA employees
became cognizant of the fact that they needed to serve the public and
needed to look at and analyze what the public needed and wanted,"
she said. "This meant using technology in a much different way. They
looked at different technologies, not just the Internet, in order to develop
something called the 'Expert Advisor,' which was both on the Internet
and on a CD-ROM, so that they could take a worker step-by-step through
a safety process and answer their questions. In the end, the worker knew
exactly how to solve a problem, and there was no impact on the OSHA staff
time. So, where normally people were spending a majority of man-hours
answering these questions, they didn't have to spend any time. The information
was there on the Internet, free and available to anyone who wanted to
This new product was a hit,
Sheketoff said. "Unions were making it available to people, employers
were providing it in their plants. This had a direct impact on the workers
and their safety, which was the result OSHA was going for. It was very
popular with the workers as well, because it answered their questions
in language that they understood, and if there was a more complicated
question that could not be answered this way, there was staff time available
to answer questions much more quickly. Rather than waiting eight or nine
months for an answer, you could get one right awayor at least what
is interpreted as right away in the Department of Labor."
"All government agencies
are starting to think of these things, and that's really important,"
she said. "This is an important place where the library community
can come into play, because you are information specialists, and that
is the currency of the realm now, information."
"After the Oklahoma
bombing," Sheketoff noted, "there was a concerted effort by
political leaders, both in the Clinton White House and on the Hill, to
be a lot less dismissive of government employees and the work that they
do to serve the public. Federal employees need to build on that goodwill;
there is an opening right now, and has been for some time, and federal
workers are taking advantage of that opening and looking outward. Rather
than serving their internal community of 'What does the Assistant Secretary
want?' they are looking out to 'What does the public want and how can
we do that?' That is very important."
Sheketoff discussed the establishment
of Chief Information Officers in each agency. "It is their responsibility
to somehow coordinate information technology within each agency and within
the government. I left the government 6 months ago, and thought that they
were really moving very rapidly towards that coordination. Although I
have been told that is very optimistic on my part, they are really going
to have to make that come about quickly."
As an example of public pressure,
she noted that, according to Access America, government customers complain
that they still need to go door to door to do their business. "Even
when they find the right agency, they may still be required to contact
that agency multiple times, or to contact other agencies to furnish information
that is already available in government records someplace else. This costs
both the customer and the government time and effort," said Sheketoff.
"I know that the government
is working very hard on updating their Web sites, making them connected,"
she continued. "Access America is trying to do that so that a member
of the public would not have to figure out which agency to go tothey
would just access the government Web site and get their question answered,
including the forms they need and a link that lets them automatically
communicate with that agency. As the public becomes more and more adept
at working with the Internet and surfing the net, they are going to demand
higher levels of information from their government. They pay a lot in
taxes and expect services in return."
"A great way to help
your agency deliver that service is through the library and the information
that you can help your agency craft," Sheketoff advised the audience.
"At lunch, a person
sitting at my table was talking about the hundreds of Web sites that NOAA
employees have created--some better than othersand many of them
are now coming to her and asking her assistance in assessing the quality
of their Web site. This is a great idea, a great service that you can
give to your colleagues in the federal government. Also, by letting them
know what else is going on in the facility, you can bring them in and
let them know what else you can do for them."
"I think that a great
partnership would be between an agency's librarian and the CIO,"
she said. "The CIO is charged with overseeing the network and the
technology, and you are the content experts. That marriage can be quite
beneficial to the agency. Agencies that do not move forward and serve
their customers are going to be penalized. They will be less accepted
by the public, and there will be less money from the Congress. There is
a finite amount of money, and it is going to the agencies that customers
perceive are serving them." She praised the health agencies for providing
innovative and popular online services. "They are doing things that
impact the public's life, and the public wants to put their money there.
That is only going to become more and more apparent as the years go on."
"As this administration
ends, and a new administration begins, the political leadership in the
agencies is going to change," Sheketoff told audience members. "That
is a great time for you to market what you are doing. There are a lot
of services that you supply or could develop to supply in the future.
We are counseling public librarians now that they need to do a good job
of marketing the library. As you know, if anyone has been to the public
library lately, it is not your grandmother's library. There is a lot of
technology and multimedia."
"Although you might
think with the Internet you would need fewer books, we are finding that
with the Internet you need more books. There have been a number of studies
done, and the more connectivity a public library has, the more training
they do on how to use a computer and the Internet, the more desire there
is in the community for the other things a library can supply. The Internet
is really increasing interest in libraries, which is surprising."
"We are counseling public
libraries to really assess what kind of services they are offering the
public, and put those together," she said. "Members really need
to look at the services that they provide, and analyze them, and put together
what we are calling 'the new compendium' of services that address problems
in the community."
"Now, your agency is
its own community," Sheketoff continued, "and if you look at
the services you already provide, or could provide, you need to communicate
them to the community within your agency and new people that come in.
Gather together anecdotes and statisticsanything that you have that
could show people what the library and librarians can provide. I think
you could become very aggressive partners with the CIOs who are going
to have a lot of pressure on them in this new administration, because
this new century is very much the information century, and there is going
to be a lot of emphasis on making good use of information."
"You have your work
cut out for you," she concluded, "but I definitely think you
could be leaders in this, and you need to be prepared to do things in
a different way, look at your customers both within the agency and in
the public, and think about what types of things they need, what they
are looking for that you can help supply. Look for groups to partner with.
You need to really get out there and open people's eyes to what you can
do to help."
Patrice McDermott, Policy
Analyst at OMB Watch, served as the respondent to the other two panelists.
"I want to start out
by saying that the theme for today was how the new technologies are going
to change the way that government operates, and the way that the government
works in the Executive branch in this particular instance," she said,
"I think that there are three ways that it fundamentally changes
the relationship of the public to the government, and those are in the
areas of access, accountability, and interaction."
"We hear a lot from
Access America and others about e-government," said McDermott, "and
the risk is that we come to understand electronic government as just transactions,
just the public doing business with government, getting forms. But electronic
government is not just about transactions, it is about interaction, and
access to content."
"One of the mantras
that OMB Watch currently has is that we cannot just talk about access,"
she said, alluding to the digital divide issues, "but access for
whom, and access to and for what? One of the 'tos' and 'fors' most central
to many communities and individuals is access to government information.
That information is of three or four kinds."
"The first category
of information is publications, online or not, that the public needs to
have access to." McDermott stopped to mention that she teaches classes,
and it is getting harder to convince students that worthwhile resources
exist that are not online. At the same time, she suggested, the government
cannot abandon its responsibility to provide the public with printed publications.
"Records are another
form of content," she noted. "Too often, when we have heard
agencies talking about providing access to their information, what they
mean is access to their publications. They do not mean access to information
about the operations of the agency. They are not talking about the accountability
part of it, the legal, evidential, historical part of things that the
National Archives is concerned with, that historians and litigators are
"The third major area
is data, and that is both administrative datathe data created in
the process of creating a government programand also clean air information,
clean water information, toxins released inventory, statistical data collected
McDermott offered an example
of public use of such data. She explained that OMB Watch operates a program
called the Right-to-Know Network, or RTK Net, which provides access primarily
to government data about the environment. The United Auto Workers, in
conjunction with an automaker, arranged to give workers computers and
wanted locals to be trained to use the Internet. In the course of the
training, OMB Watch staff members showed them how to access this information,
and they wanted to learn about the chemicals emitted from their plants
and the ones across the street.
They found that the plant
across the street was emitting harmful chemicals, McDermott said, "which
potentially gives them the chance to do something about this as members
of that community. But, here is a changeas people become more and
more empowered in using government information, they are going to want
the government to collect more." She explained that the workers said
"It is not enough just to know what is coming out of the plant. We
need to know what is coming into it and happening to it while it is here,
but that information is not collected.
"The public is going
to become more demanding, and expect more mandates on agencies to collect
information. This information may not be 'thrilling,' but is critical
to the health, safety, and livability of communities," said McDermott.
"Sogovernment should have a goal of making government more
transparent at every level: making its operations more transparent, its
information more transparent, and making it more transparent in terms
of helping the public to interact."
"The common failure,
not just in government, but els ewhere, is automating what we do, instead
of thinking from the outside in." McDermott said. "As an example,
recordkeepingyou cannot just automate record keeping. What we understand
as a record is changing. Where it resides is changing. It used to be that
when everything was paper, it did not reside solely on your computer.
A printed paper copy was put into a file. This does not happen anymore."
"This is creating tremendous
problems for agencies with electronic Freedom of Information Act requests,
when they are being required to search all of their records for responsiveness
to a FOIA request," she explained. "They sometimes have to go
in and ask employees to search every computer in their department, because
agencies have not set up electronic record keeping systems. Having something
on a backup tape in email is not a record keeping system. It is not indexed,
it is not in a series, there is no disposition scheduled for it; it is
just there, and so how it is handled over time is changing, also."
"What we need to do,
what the government needs to do, is to think together about the ongoing
aspects of government information in its many forms and formats. One of
the problems that we have seen, and it is debilitating, is that it is
easier for people in similar jobs from different agencies to talk to one
another than it is for people in different jobs within an agency to talk
to one another. The library people do not talk to the IT or IRM people,
the FOIA people do not talk to the library people, and neither one of
them talk to the IT people."
"This is not your fault,"
she said. "This is just the structure of the agency. What we have
seen is, because of the push of the technology, and because CIOs have,
for the most part, been technology people rather than information-oriented
people, there is no incentive. Most of the money and energy goes to IT
and IRM, without thinking through what this means for privacy, record
keeping, records management, FOIAwhat it means for declassification.
We should be moving towards a system so that when a record is created
it can be coded and tagged for classification, with a time period assigned
to that; that the privacy issues can be tagged; that it can be tagged
for its record keeping purposes. Email should be tagged the same way."
She said that email that
her organization receives from OMB is tagged with a line at the end that
says "this is a federal record."
"I thought that was
very telling that this was showing up. This is not happening at most agencies,
and it is going to cause an enormous, enormous problem, and enormous litigation
problems down the road," McDermott said.
So, she suggested, we need
to think about all of these issues together. "Libraries have a central
role to play, especially in the knowledge management area, and in helping
the agencies think through how information fits together, how people will
be searching for information, and what it means to provide access to that
information...even how to find information within an agency."
McDermott gave an example.
FOIA officers are supposed to put up inventories of their information
systems. "This is a major pain to do," she said. "To identify
them for starters, and then to put that information up. But it enables
the public to understand how the agency organizes its intellectual content.
While record schedules and library subject matter do not necessarily dovetail,
there are overlaps, intellectual collocation in many of the same ways.
We have been pushing, trying to do the bully pulpit thing, for several
years now, trying to get agency people talking to one another."
"The other issues that
[Barram] brought up are privacy, which I think is going to become an increasing
problemcertainly medical records are becoming a huge issue in the
governmentand the other major issue is security. This is an area
where technology is seen to fundamentally change the way that the information
McDermott offered an anecdote."In
the 1990 Clean Air Act, the government was required to collect from chemical
plants information that they were supposed to create about what would
be the worst cast scenario if their plant blew up: how many people would
be killed at what range. The act mandated that this be made available
to the public. The information was due last summer, and the EPA decided
to put it up on the Internet; what better way to make it available to
the public? The manufacturer's association got the FBI involved, and basically
a law was passed that makes it a criminal offense to provide this information
to the public for a year, and there is supposed to be a study being done."
"The argument was that
terrorists could know what the worst-case scenario was, and therefore
they would target these plants. This information is already pretty much
known alreadyas someone pointed out, if you drive up 95 between
here and New York, you could get a good sense of where a terrorist might
strikebut the argument is that putting this up on the Internet would
somehow make it more accessible and provoke terrorist attacks."
"Those of you who were
around in the 1980s might remember when the FBI wanted librarians to tell
them about suspicious foreigners who wanted access to government in librariesthe
exact same theory," she said. "Yes, there are security issues.
Yes, the Internet does make things more accessible. But we need to think
about security and access together, and be careful that we do not scare
ourselves into limiting legitimate and needed public access to government
"As some of you may
know, a couple of weeks ago, the EPA closed down its Web site, and closed
down its email. This was in response to a series of security problems
with the ability to get behind their firewalland they are not alone.
Representative Bliley was going to do a hearing and make this report public,
targeting EPA. The agency decided that this constituted an invitation
to hack them, so they closed down. They sacrificed access for security
it seemed that there really were serious problems."
The report that Bliley was
going to cite, she said, a study from the Government Accounting Office,
had a comment from one of the respondents that those agencies with the
best information practices are the ones with the best security. "I
think that is what we have to think about. The Internet does make government
more vulnerable, but it also makes what the government can do fundamentally
more powerful, and increases the ability of the public to know what our
communities are like, what the quality of our air, water, soil are like...or
for activists to see what DuPont Chemical is doing across the country
and see what different laws in different places did to make them improve
or not improve their behavior."
"I loved Mr. Barlow's
comment that architecture is politics," said McDermott. "I think
the government's failure to have an information architecture is also a
failure of politics, and to not implement a policy is also to have a policy.
The failure of the Executive branch to do what the PRA says, to do what
ITMRA says, to do what eFOIA says, is de facto a policy of not caring
about the public and not caring about access."
"The final thing I want to say is that a fundamental thing that
we have always understood with libraries and government is that we have
a right to access them that anonymously. That is under threat from the
current administration and Congress. Particularly the current administrationbecause
of hackers and crackers, the FBI thinks that no one should be able to
get onto government sites anonymously, that you should always be trackable
and traceable. I think that this is a fundamental civil liberty, and a
fundamental of interaction with government, that unless you want to identify
yourself, you should be able to do that anonymously. The government should
not have to know who you are and why you want to know what you are asking
of them. I think that some of the greatest challenges and threats to how
the government does its business and interacts with the public, are in
the security issues, and the fact that we may scare ourselves to the detriment
of our democratic republic."
Q & A
J. Thomas Hennessey Jr. of
George Mason University served as the moderator for the panel's question-and-answer
One audience member talked
about the varied practices of different agencies surrounding security.
Another asked about the risk of both denial-of-service attacks and personal
threats to diplomats from people in foreign countries, and the choice
that needs to be made about whether or not anonymous access should be
McDermott said "I think
that is a debate we need to have. I do not think there are quick and easy
answers to it, but I do not think that the response is that we immediately
limit the ability of the public to access government information anonymously.
It is a knee jerk reaction. I think there is a legitimate issue there,
but we cannot just invoke terrorism and the language that is coming out
of Congress about cyber-attacks."
Sheketoff agreed that overacting
to the threat of terrorist attacks needs to be balanced with what access
to the information can do for the American public. Barram also agreed
that balance is important, and suggested that threats that used to be
made by letter or phone are now being made via email. "We just have
to keep our cool about this," he said.
Another audience member from
the Department of Labor offered a cautionary tale about the danger of
involving IT staff in online content production for fear of bogging down
the development of content that previously worked well as a print product.
Barram noted that the agency should not be afraid of learning from this
A final audience member asked
about the reactions of third-party publishers who had been making government
information available for a fee to agencies posting their information
free-of-charge on their Web sites.
McDermott said "I think
it is the responsibility of the market to stay ahead, not the responsibility
of the government to stay behind." Barram's response was "without
being too crass about it, people in the private sector who provide information
better have a competitive advantage over the government, and if they do
not, forget it." Hennessey commented that for every organization
that dies because they were providing public information, another two
companies have emerged who are taking the public information, and repackaging
it, because they are the integrators.
III: Judicial Branch
What changes, driven
by the information economy, are foreseen in the judiciary in the 21st
It was announced that the
Honorable Edward Nottingham, who was scheduled to speak, had met with
skiing accident: U.S. District Judge James Robertson took his place in
Judith D. Ford, Judge, Superior
Court of California, County of Alameda
Marcia J. Koslov, Director
of Knowledge Management, National Center for State Courts
James Robertson, U.S. District
Judge Judith Ford of the
Superior Court of California, Alameda County, provided an overview of
the impact of information technology on the judiciary.
The mission of the
judiciary is the administration of justice, said Ford. Those
of us who carry out this mission rely on constitutional and statutory
mandates, along with tradition and precedent, in arriving at the decisions
that resolve disputes. At the heart of this process is information. We
take in information in the form of evidence, arguments, or advocacy, statues,
and decisional law. We evaluate this information, render decisions, and
disseminate those decisions, thereby establishing precedent for future
For more than 200 years,
most of the information processing in the judiciary has been by paper
and leather bound volume, she noted. Now, however, information
technology is changing the way the judiciary functions. Electronic media
and computers are changing the way that citizens receive and process information.
With the court, the challenge is twofold: to adjudicate the cases that
come from this new environment, and to adjust the internal business processes
so the courts themselves can function in this new environment.
Ford said that she would
focus on the changing nature of information, the impact of that change
on the judiciary, and the challenges presented to judges, court administrators,
government officials, and the public.
Issues raised today
are intended to provide a framework to evaluate the role of information
management in the electronic environment, rather than to provide specific
solutions to the many issues that face our courts, she said. She
noted the profound changes in everyday activities that information technology
had wrought in the past several years, from buying tickets to movies online
to accessing files almost instantaneously.
These are truly revolutionary
changes, and they have occurred in a very short period of time. Everything
is quicker and easier, said Ford. When I read the San Francisco
newspapers, every day I am presented with stories of new Internet startup
companies, and have learned an entirely new language: high speed network
access, wireless modems, ISPs and IPOs. Stop to consider that these terms
did not exist a year or so ago. Every day after I read these stories,
I walk into my courthouse, through the file rooms, into my chambers, and
turn on my computer so that I know what my calendar holds for that day.
This is the impact of technology on the judiciary today.
A friend and respected attorney suggested to me that if a time
traveler from the fifteenth century were to travel to modern-day America,
the only places he would find at all familiar would be a church or a court,
she continued. I suggest to you that this will be changing more
quickly and dramatically than anyone could have predicted.
The judicial system
is conceptually an information processing system, Ford said. Information
enters the system in the form of pleadings and evidence, is processed
through various pre-trial, trial, and appellate operations, and exits
the system in the form of orders, judgments, opinions and other data.
This is the classic input/throughput/output model of communication theory.
While overly simplistic,
that description captures two salient features of that system. First,
from the perspective of those within the system, the flow of information
through multiple operations is a dominant characteristicthat is
intake and output are critical to court operations. Second, from the perspective
of those outside the system, it is a relatively closed system. Information
enters and exits in a tightly controlled, highly formalized way. Access
to the judicial system is limited by rules, laws, and lawyers who act
as its gatekeepers. I submit to you now that the changing nature of information
also can limit access to the court system.
Ford explained that the resources
allocated to the judiciary are scarce. While the courts are a constitutionally
independent branch of government, they compete with their executive and
legislative counterparts for funding, she said. On the federal
level, a mere 2.2 percent of the budget is allocated to the judicial branch.
In California, a mere 2.1 percent of the states budget is allocated
to the judicial branch. In terms of technology, the judicial branch spends
5.6 percent of its resources on technology. In California, it is estimated
that the courts spend 10-12 percent of their resources. Neither federal
nor state systems have adequate resources.
The lack of resources
available to the judiciary leads to the perceptionperhaps the realitythat
the courts are far behind the curve in terms of technology. The traditional
and paper-based systems of the courts are slow to change, and the adoption
rate for technology is very slow. There are judges in my court who still
will not use a computer, while other judges are so facile at using the
technology that they do not use paper files anymore, because all of the
information they need is available at their bench top computer. This is
quite a disparity, she said.
It should come as no
surprise that the public system in general, and the courts in particular,
lags behind the private sector innovative uses of technology, said
Ford. She offered the Y2K issue as an example. While the private
sector viewed the coming of January 1, 2000 as merely another project
in its business plan, most government industries and states halted all
new information technology projects, many for as long as two years, while
the Y2K efforts could be completed. Think about the progress that the
private sector has made in the last two years. Amazon.com was funded,
Intels Pentium III chip debuted, etc. My court, during that period,
bought new personal computers to replace those purchased in the late 1980s.
Despite this chasm
in technology, said Ford, a unique paradox emerges for the
courts. While the courts themselves may be lower on the technology curve
than their private counterparts, it is those innovators who create the
conflicts that are adjudicated by the courts. This means that judges,
even though they may not have a computer in their chambers, are called
upon to resolve cases involving highly specialized technology issues,
and rely on paper files to manage those cases.
The Internet provides
the best example of this profound change, she continued. Individuals
can access information instantaneously, and customize that information
to meet their unique needs. This has changed their expectations of customer
service. As people become more familiar with technology and transact more
and more business online, they expect the same level of service from everyone,
Services do not always meet
demands. Ford explained that in Alameda County, where she is on the bench,
paying a traffic ticket would still involve going to the courthouse, waiting
in line at the counter, and writing a check. On the other hand,
if you want to renew your drivers license in Arizona, you can log
onto the motor vehicle Web site, enter your credit card number, and log
off, she said. So, there are some changes going on, but in
my court, and courts in general, we tend to be a lot further behind.
The courts are facing
fundamental issues in how to receive, process, and disseminate information
as well, said Ford. The societal norms that used to be created
by written words, laws, and statutes are now the product of computers
and codes. This raises many issues for the courts: free speech rights,
privacy, access considerations, and copyright and intellectual property
rights in cyberspace.
The code-based norm
has also changed the nature of information itself through direct access.
Boundary issues that used to be policed through physical barriers or geography
are blurred in cyberspace. It does not matter where the computer that
provides the information is physically located, or where the originator
of the information is physically located. How and where do you prosecute
an offender in cyberspace? she asked.
Technology has created
a virtual place that is not composed of fifty states and a central federal
authority. The collision of physical, boundary-based laws and infinite
cyber-boundaries is best illustrated in the debate over sales tax for
companies selling products online. The federal government has not decided
what approach to take regarding sales tax regulations for such companies,
She spoke about other fundamental
changes related to electronic communication, such as methods of public
access to court records. Now you could create your own database
out of that information and manipulate it, and potentially wreak havoc,
Ford said. Free speech enjoys a high level of de facto privacy protection.
Those protections virtually disappear in the electronic world. Electronic
information that can be easily obtained and manipulatedeither positively
or negativelythreatens the privacy protection of the paper-based
media. The opportunity to infringe on rights is far greater in the electronic
realm than in the paper realm.
Ford read a passage from
a 1993 report from the Commission on the Future of the Courts in California
predicting what the court would look like in the year 2020. She suggested
that the situation they described then was arriving much sooner than they
had expected: Vast quantities of information which can be searched
and analyzed in a variety of ways will be available to anyone who can
connect to the judicial system database. The database, consisting of full-text
case files, statistical reports, and much more, will be huge in comparison
with what is available only to legal professionals today. But it will
constitute no more than a minute fraction of the information available
to a normal person in 2020. These vast quantities of available information
will, however, be useless without tools that search, sort, correlate,
and interpret informationinformation intermediaries, people and
programs who will have expertise in turning information into knowledge
will be very important. Lawyers will be only one of many providers of
this critical service, and will compete and cooperate with other providers
in ways that will redefine the boundaries of the profession. While the
private sector competes for the profitable parts of the legal sector,
the judicial system may become the information provider of the last resort
for those whose needs exceed their ability to pay.
These are the challenges
that you, librarians and legal researchers, information keepers face,
Ford told audience members. She offered two challenges for the future.
When I walk into the
law library in my court, I am greeted by orderly books on shelves, and
occasional computer terminals. I expect that in the not-too-distant future,
I will be greeted by orderly computer terminals and other not-even-yet-conceived-of
electronic access devices. Your challenge is to transform the environment
and shift the focus of the library away from reshelving books to the development
and use of technology-based information tools.
The strength that judges
seek in legal researchers today is the ability to summarize information
and reach appropriate conclusions. In the Internet environment, a judge
will not need a researcher to summarize information; commercial information
brokers will do that for us. Today, what we need are tools to sift through
that information quickly and efficiently, to weed out what is extraneous
to the case, to extract what is relevant, and we will look to you, the
knowledge navigators, to develop and implement those tools for us, and
to remember that judges may have the longest learning curve of all.
Ford showed images of some
of her current tools: a CD-ROM, a disk, and a monitor embedded in her
bench, but said that many more tools will be needed in the future to keep
up with the flood of information entering the court with each new case.
As cases increase in complexity, the court must implement the tools
to manage that case in the same way that judges need tools to manage legal
research. Key to the development of such systems is the allocation of
financial and personnel resources.
Until the judiciary
is treated as a truly equal branch of government, it cannot hope to achieve
these gains, or even the gains achieved in the legislative and executive
branches, nor come close to the innovations and prowess of the private
sector, Ford concluded. With true parity, the courts will
be prepared to respond to the changing service expectations of its customers
and meet the demands of the changing nature of technology on the judicial
Marcia Koslov, Director of
Knowledge Management for the National Center for State Courts, spoke next.
Even though we cannot
predict the future, I truly believe that we are in a unique time in which
we can change the future, and make it happen in a way that we as librarians
can be involved in it, Koslov said.
Technology has enabled
us to shape the future, and has spawned new disciplines, one of which
is knowledge management, she explained. With the technology
available today, we have the means to capture not only explicit experiences
stored in books, journals, documents, reports, media and even e-mail,
but also to capture tacit experiences: ideas, insights, values, and judgments
of individuals. This notion takes libraries and librarianship to another
whole level. At its most basic, knowledge management is the ability to
provide the right knowledge to the right person at just the right time.
Koslov outlined three processes
that make up knowledge management: knowledge creation, knowledge sharing,
and knowledge use.
- Knowledge creation
is the result of day-to-day activities that an organization or enterprise
performs, she said. Knowledge is created individually and
through collaborative efforts by synthesizing existing information and
- Knowledge sharing
is composed of three activities. The first is capturing, the second
organization, and the third, access. We in the library field call that
acquisition, classification and maintenance, and dissemination of information
and materials, she continued.
- Knowledge use is
the application of knowledge to work activities, decision making, and
the opportunities that arise. Knowledge management works in a circle;
use generates feedback that affects all of the other activities. Feedback
is injected into the knowledge management process throughout, but particularly
in the development of knowledge creation.
So, she asked,
how is knowledge management applicable to the judicial system? First,
we have the ability to not only capture data and information, but actual
knowledge. Second, we are able to synthesize that knowledge to affect
change in a very dramatic and very immediate way. Third, we have the ability
to cross borders and boundaries without barriers.
Building a knowledge
management environment, especially in the judicial system, may not be
as difficult as we think, said Koslov. We have always tried
to capture data and information in the form of written opinions produced
by judges and justices. Those facts and events that shape those opinions
are recorded. A set of knowledge is also clearly recordedideas,
judgments, and values that go into the writing of those opinions.
But, she said,
with technology, we can go farther. We have the capability to talk,
judge-to-judge, to contact judges who have expertise or experience in
a specialized area of the law. We do that by creating databases of contacts
and databases of experts. We also do that through Web sites, such as the
one that both Judge Ford and I are working on called the Justice Web Collaboratory.
This Web site is developing specifically to allow judges to talk to other
judges in a secure environment.
We also need to start
developing systems that embrace a larger number of disciplines,
Koslov said. The fields of science and medicine, biology, chemistry,
engineering, and the environment are all part and parcel of todays
legal and judicial system. Databases of experts, communities of practiceand
best practicescan be developed, maintained, and accessed by the
judiciary across the country.
We must use our ability
to synthesize knowledge to affect change. To give you an example, we need
to develop faster, more nimble systems that serve our customers more effectively
and efficiently. There is a large debate in the judicial system about
whether or not we even have customersbut that what we
call them. We need to take a look at the judicial system and ask ourselves
what are our customers expectations? What adjunct processes,
or completely new methods, should be developed to satisfy those expectations?
Defining the customer more
clearly is the first step, said Koslov. The legal system has long
been the purview of judges and lawyers. About thirty years ago, it expanded
to include the profession of court administration. Now, it needs to include
the end-userthe customer is the citizen. You see an increasing number
of Web sites designed to directly respond to the legal information needs
of the general public.
She displayed a legal site
cofounded by former New York Mayor Ed Koch as an example. It is
modestly called The Law.com,
she joked. This site is sort of a legal infomercialit has
some law, some legal news, and lots of entertainment. It contains general
information on various legal topics. It allows you to have a live chat
with a lawyer, and gives you the times that lawyers will be available.
It allows you to select a topical area, find a form or find a lawyer.
Koch even has his famous how m I doing? question in
the corner, because he wants feedback.
At first, she said, she looked
at this site and thought this is really not serious.
But it is, she
said. I found out that it was legit because I went into Find
a Lawyer, picked a practice area, Alternative Dispute Resolution
(ADR), and picked Wisconsin, which happens to be one of the jurisdictions
that is listed, and it came up with the names of two attorneys I know
quite well, and who do a good job in ADR. There are only a handful of
jurisdictions there right now, but no doubt Koch has some very high-powered
cofounders on this and they are no doubt looking to expand the site.
She recommended another of
these sites, this one from the Arizona Bar Foundation, called Law
This is a fabulous
site, developed with kids in mind, said Koslov. It is interactive,
colorful, dynamic, and has really useful information. This site has youth
laws, including topical areas on kids and traffic laws, things that spell
trouble, like drinking and driving, and a section on what kids are being
arrested for. Each is very interactive, but when you get down to the nub
of this, it has a final area called Read the Law. By the time
the kids get there, they do not know that that they are reading actual
law, but they are because they are so engrossed in this site that it is
not onerous for them to be doing that.
She spoke about an even more
comprehensive plan, recently proposed through a joint venture of the National
Center for State Courts, the Chicago Kent Law School, and the Illinois
Institute for Design. This proposal follows the first national conference
on pro se litigants, and if funded, will deliver a baseline assessment
of existing court processes involving a high proportion of self-represented
litigants. It will develop a Web-based prototype for a completely new
and redesigned process of dealing with conflict, and will develop a national
Web site promoting the use of Internet technology to improve access to
Koslov, through technology, the legal system and judicial branch
are now able to cross borders and boundaries without limitations. Because
we are able to do that, we can develop new models for handing the judiciarys
business. For example, in many states, access to administrative codes
and agency regulations were very limited. In some states, no administrative
code was compiled in a single form; you had to know who to go to within
an agency to find the information. However, because of technology, those
agencies have skipped the printing process and gone right to the Web.
Not only are those codes available for the first time within a state,
but the states are looking across borders for the first time, especially
in the areas of natural resources, the environment, water rights and regulations,
A second example is
even more dramatic, she said. Several years ago, the Chicago
Kent Law School undertook a project to develop an internal information
infrastructure for Bosnia. Project Bosnia connects Bosnian courts with
a database that stores legal documents such as constitutions, laws, regulations,
and court decisions. The rationale was this: peace required the rule of
law, and the rule of law required functioning legal institutions. Legal
institutions must exchange information, but there were no libraries left,
and few printing presses. Even for those few books that existed, there
was no transportation infrastructure to move materials around the country.
But, by building an Internet-based information infrastructure, they believed
that they could encourage a wide exchange of ideas, strengthen a free
press, and broaden citizen participation.
Koslov concluded her remarks
by reminding the audience that knowledge management is especially new
as a discipline within the public sector .The judicial branch has
only just begun to think about this discipline, she said. Knowledge
management is an opportunity for librarians to use their expertise in
developing databases, access, and informational structures in a way that
will help not only the judiciary, but the executive and legislative branches
as well. This is a future that provides the right data, information, and
knowledge to the right person, be they judge or citizen, at just the right
time that responds to consumer needs and provides effective administration
of justice for all citizens.
James Robertson, U.S. District
Judge, noted that Koslov had framed knowledge management as creating,
sharing, and using knowledge, rather than keeping, saving or locking it
up. A very interesting point is that librarians have traditionally
been in the business of keeping things, he noted. My college
library used to be in a little housein the eighteenth century, when
the university was founded, the librarians saw their job as keeping the
books under lock and key where the students wouldnt get at them.
We all know that when they burned the library in Alexandria, they destroyed
the worlds knowledge, and it was only the monks who were making
the illuminated scripts that were keeping it alive. The need to keep and
secure knowledge permanently is a big part of our innate thinking about
what knowledge is, and yet what we call knowledge today, much of it is
What is knowledge today
is history tomorrow, and forgotten the day after that, Robertson
said. But in the judiciary, we get a little bit obsessed by the
permanence of every line that we write, although Judge Ford and I are
trial judges, and we know that trial judges write on the water because
the court of appeals changes it tomorrow. Still, in the five years that
I have been on the bench, three full floor-to-ceiling bookshelves in my
office have been filled up with nothing but the Westlaw reports of the
decisions of the US Courts of Appeals. That is knowledge, but how permanent
does it need to be? Does it really need to be in bound volumes on the
shelf of every judge in the federal system?
Robertson sits on the Committee
on Automation and Technology of the Judicial Conference. Somebody
handed this committee the question of what books judges really need. This
was not an issue we really wanted to deal with, because judges think they
have a Constitutional right to have those books. But books take space,
they cost money, they use paper, they use trees, they have all kinds of
effects that I do not have to tell you all about. Part of what were
trying to do is wean judges away from at least the space they need for
books, and it may be that in the next century that the use of books by
the judiciary will be much reduced.
Robertson joked that he and
Judge Ford were planning to form a road show. He said she
is the cutting edge, and I am Eeyore [the woeful donkey of Winnie the
Whats going on
in the federal courts? Roberson asked. There certainly are
judges that will not have anything to do with computers, but that does
not mean we do not all have them. Every federal judge now has a computer,
and every courthouse has a network. There is a well-functioning judiciary-wide
Intranet called the Data Communications Network (DCN), but the federal
judiciary is going to the Web. I am not sure how long it will take us
to get there, but we are going.
I can remember a time
when our courthouse decided that we would change from 8 ½ by 14
inch paper to 8 ½ by 11 paper, and it took five years. The pace
of change is faster now, but it will take some time, he warned.
He explained that the Administrative
Office of US Courts, which manages the assets of the federal judiciary,
has developed an electronic case-filing program for case management. It
is in the prototype stage now; there are nine courts that are running
it, and there will be another five or six by the end of this year.
What will this electronic
case filing system be? he said. Well, for lawyers, it will
eliminate the bicycle messenger. It will be a way for a lawyer to file
papers from her desk, create a document in any word-processing format
she wants to, convert it to a PDF, log onto the Internet, pull down a
menu for filing a document, click in some blanks, attach the document,
send it, and the document is filed. Not only that, but the docket entry
will be created. For those of you who do not know much about courts, the
docket entry is a vital part of the process; it is the formal record of
whats really happening. It has historically been the province of
people called clerks to prepare. Now it is going to be prepared by the
lawyers, which means the function of the clerks is going to change, and
they will be dislocated in some way, which will cause malcontent and acid
Not only will the case
be filed and docketed, he continued, but it will be instantly
publicly available on the Web, word-searchable, 24-7, everywhere in the
Behind the scenes, Robertson
explained, aspects of this program will provide for the judges and
courts a whole new system of managing the knowledge that has been created
with this electronic filing. It will flag motions, it will let judges
understand which motions they are ruling on, it will provide a method
for lawyers to notify one another by email or fax when they have filed
a paper rather than sending a piece of paper. In theory, it will create
a virtually paperless system for the receiving, arguing, analysis, decision
making and dissemination of the thing we call justice, which is the product
of the courts.
Of course, he admitted, everybody
knows that there is only so much time you can spend reading long documents
before a computer, so we will have bigger printers and more closet storage
space in our chambers for the storage of paper on which to print things,
but the printing will be done locally. The notion is to distribute and
then print, rather than to print and then distribute.
This begs the archiving question.
The judiciary has not really addressed this question; we are certain
that the archives and the Library of Congress will solve this problem
for us, said Robertson.
Eventually, he said, he hopes
that the legal system will be putting workstations at prisons, so
that the prisoners who write out their complaints on the backs of envelopes
and the borders of newspapers and send them into us will at least be sending
us something legible and that fits a format that the computer understands.
We will have to find ways for the pro se litigant, the person filing
documents for him- or herself, to file these documents. Of course, we
will end up scanning in documents at the clerks office for people
who walk in off of the street, we will wind up giving public access terminals
for these people, and the lawyers who refuse to buy computers will probably
be sent to Kinkos.
This is the future
of the judiciary; it is not the present, Robertson said. I
spoke with a judge in Kansas who is using the prototype and asked him
how it is. He said It is terrific...it is invisible. They bring
in the paper like they always did; they print it out, they give it to
me, and I am very happy with it. We have to deal with that. We are
working this through the generations.
Roberson expanded on his
role as the Eeyore of judicial information technology. Judges consider
themselves, justly or not justly, to be custodians of this system, which
is thousands of years old. Knowledge is evanescent, but we have a number
of concerns. I am an enthusiast for this new technology, but I also recognize
and respect the caveats that come along with it. For example, security:
Who cares if someone hacks into court business? Well, Judge Thomas Penfield
Jackson cares if someone hacks into his decision on the Microsoft case
before it comes down, because it could affect the stock of Microsoft by
several points in half an hour. Who else cares? The Probation Office would
care a lot if some hackers came in and changed the jail time of prisoners.
In fact, he noted, the only known, serious attack on a judicial computer
system was a change in the time that an inmate had to serve so that he
got out earlier.
Privacy is probably
the number one issue in the minds of the judiciary, he said. Court
records are public if you go down to the courthouse and ask for a file
across the desk; you do not have to identify yourself, but at least the
person who gives you the file knows that you are a person and presumably
not someone crazy. Completely open court records that are searchable 24-7
by anybody anywhere might contain credit card numbers, and Social Security
numbers, and sensitive medical information. We need to make sure that
the records are public, but not publish such information. The judiciary
is wrestling with that, and you all are wrestling with it. Whether it
is going to be done by rule changes, or whether it is going to be done
by providing different levels of access, I do not know.
If we decide that the
only way to protect all of this stuff is to put it in hard copies and
under seal, then we will have defeated all of the efficiencies that we
are trying to achieve, so we are struggling with it, he said.
Reliability is another big
issue. Do we trust the Internet? What if it crashes? Murphys
law is alive and well in the world. Authenticity is another big thing
for judges, electronic signatures. Is that affidavit a real affidavit?
We have struggled for centuries with something called the best evidence
rule, and it took us twenty years to realize that Xerox copies of documents
could be documents, he said. I remember my father, who was
a banker, coming home with a ball point pen when I was a child, and saying
look at these new things; they will never recognize a ballpoint
pen signature as a real signature.
Permanence also comes up
again and again. What has to be permanent? Robertson asked.
What does permanent mean in a day when formats and programs
and platforms are changing every several years? There is going to have
to be some national solution for that problem, I think. The judiciary
is very concerned about permanence.
On top of all that,
he said, there is the law of unintended consequences. We all know
where that leads us.
So, that is a respectable
Eeyore position on information filing and case management, Robertson
concluded. I am all for it, it is the future, and it is coming whether
we like it or not, but the judges are going to be, and should be, quite
careful and conservative about it. But it will be much more efficient
and cost-effective than what we have now. Some people will say that we
do not need more efficient lawyers and courts, thank you very much, and
at a more philosophical level, it may be that speed of decision making
is not all that good a thing. The justice process requires deliberation
and care, and that is probably a final part of my Eeyore role.
Q & A
One audience member asked
about the exchange of information between the Department of Justice and
different levels of California courts. Ford explained that the courts
would probably be moving to an XML exchange standard to make sharing information
more efficient. I would say in the next two years we will be there
or almost be there, she said.
Another attendee brought
up the issue of accessibility and ADA standards for information in courts.
Koslov said that the National Center for State Courts received a grant
to allow them to capture ADA standards that are in effect in the 50 state
courts so that they can help them to raise their standards to an appropriate
level. Ford said that in California, the courts had to come up to speed
in regard to the physical plant, and both the state and major regional
levels there are committees working on the electronic environment to make
it ADA compliant. Robertson said it is a stunningly difficult and
complex set of questions, and I do not think anyone is paying much attention
to it yet, but we will.
J. Thomas Hennessey, Jr.
Dr. J. Thomas Hennessey,
Jr. returned to the podium to conclude the days events.
I have four pages of
notes here that I will set aside because I know I am not going to get
to them, he said. I will say, though, that there are some
themes and commonalities that I am sure you picked up. First of all, we
are all experiencing the nature of the unexpected. To suggest that that
will lessen in the future is naïve; to think that we are going to
address all of the problems that will be raised is probably less than
realistic, and to think that we have even though of all of the problems
that are going to be presented to us is unwise.
He addressed the issue of
compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. I just finished
a year-long study of the Commonwealth of Virginias efforts to become
Web-enabled, he said. Whether you like what Jim Gilmore, our
governor, has dictated or not, by the end of this year, every citizen
of Virginia who wants or needs to do anything with the government of the
state will be able to do it via the Web.
He explained that one of
the first things they said is that those implementing the plan would have
to make all forms available in PDF by mid-July. This did not take into
account, however, another requirementto make everything accessible.
These moments will continually face us, whether it is in access,
security, privacy, or other areas, said Hennessey.
In the elected branch
of government, I believe there will be less change, because it is more
difficult for our elected leaders to react to the change. However, in
the Executive Branch, we can anticipate a requirement to change that will
be driven from the bottom up. As the states become more and more accessible
to their citizens, the states in turn are going to demand that the Federal
agencies with whom they work perform better. It is one thing for citizens
to demand that the Federal government work better. It is a far different
matter for the agencies who are tasked to implement federal requirements
to be required to perform better by the states who are, in a sense, their
I cannot speak so much
to the Judicial Branch, he said, but I think that we are going
to finally have to deal with the fact that if we can manage to do it in
the Executive Branch, we eventually will have to attempt it in the Judicial
He concluded with an example
of the law of unintended consequences that Robertson mentioned. If
you are in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and you want to apply for a new
license plate online, you can do so, but up until a few months ago, you
still had to pay the $2.50 fee that you had to pay if you mailed the request
in. We asked a very simple question: why? The cost of transaction is nothing
if a citizen comes in and drops the request off. It took us about three
weeks to convince them that the fee was not necessary.
There are multiple
decisions being made out there, in the three branches. Oftentimes the
people making those decisions are disconnected from the IT people who
have the responsibility to make it work. Hennessey said that his
team surveyed every Webmaster in the Commonwealth of Virginia, all 147
official sites. We asked them a whole series of questions about
what they do and why they cannot do it better. The overwhelming response
was that they were not communicating with the content people. I suggest
that the librarians, the knowledge navigators, are the glue that will
bring together the content people and the IT peoplethe ones that
will make it possible for current and future information technology in
the government work better, cost less, and do all of the things we want
it to do.
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