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Government Futures:
Impact of Information Advances in the 21st Century

2000 FLICC Forum on Federal Information Policies

A Summary of Proceedings

March 30, 2000—Library of Congress—Washington DC


Previous FLICC Forums
Forum Call
Welcome and Presentation of FLICC Awards
    Susan M. Tarr, Executive Director FLICC
    James H. Billington
    John Perry Barlow
Panel I: Legislative Branch
    Vic Fazio, Daniel P. Mulhollan
Panel II: Executive Branch
    David J. Barram, Emily Sheketoff, Patrice McDermott
Panel III: Judicial Branch
    Judith D. Ford, Marcia J. Koslov, James Robertson
    Dr. J. Thomas Hennessey


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 libraries—the Library of Congress, National Library of Medicine, National Agricultural Library, and the National Library of Education—and 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.

FLICC’s 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 technologies.

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].

        Susan M. Tarr, Executive Director, FLICC


Previous FLICC Forums

  • 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 12, 1986
  • 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 20, 1990
  • Building Information Superhighways: Supercomputing Networks and Libraries, February 15, 1991
  • The Future of Government Technology: Money, Management, and Technology, March 17, 1992
  • Government’s Role in the Electronic Era: User Needs and Government’s Response, March 25, 1993
  • Information’s Roles in Reinventing Government: Delivery of Government Information, March 22, 1994
  • The Life Cycle of Government Information: Challenges of Electronic Innovation, March 24, 1995
  • The Public’s 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.

    Proceedings written by Jessica Clark


Forum Call

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 those roles?
  • 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 government services?
  • 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 government—the legislative, executive and judical branches—is comprised of “weighty” institutions that are slow to change. But the fast-paced information economy does not wait for slow institutions—it 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.


Welcome and Presentation of FLICC Awards:

Susan M. Tarr, Executive Director, FLICC

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 selections."

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 the Year

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 Chair—FLICC

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 Forum’s 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 nation’s 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 world’s 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. “I’m 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 Forum’s Keynote Speaker, John Perry Barlow, noting that some had called him the “Thomas Jefferson” of the Internet.



Keynote: 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 Frontier Foundation

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 parties—well-funded ones at that—who 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 thought—in any time prior to this one—if 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 it—rather than the artists—and 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 files—almost all of them copyrighted material—available. 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 Napster—not 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 to dismantle.

"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 problem."

"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 discuss—or 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 event."

"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," Barlow said.

"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 reproduced—the 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 with."

"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."


Panel 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

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 constituencies."

"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 grassroots—and something that is not grassroots, call it Astroturf—driven 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 her—they 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 evening—especially those from the West who are not interrupting meals and keeping people up—but 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 with e-mailers."

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 have."

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 seek—that 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 target—Voter.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 up."

"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 desk—not just as an ornament, not just to look relevant, but to use it and be in touch—is 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 involvement—whether 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 years—and maybe we should get used to cutting that in half—we 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 place."

"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 matter—one 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 mailings—most 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 play—with the goal of [connecting with] those who are in a state of anomie—is still an open question," he said.

"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 system—for which Thomas is the public mirror—providing 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 ways."

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 problems themselves."

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 legislation—recurring legislation that has to be passed—become 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.


Panel 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 Services Administration

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 team—that 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 was—I 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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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 discount—we can be bought. But you cannot really buy what we think is privacy. I think we are going to struggle hard with this issue."

  3. Promoting a fair chance for each of us to flourish. "First," he said, "to keep markets fair—I 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."

"Meanwhile," he 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

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 around—not that they are popular now—but 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 get it."

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 away—or 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 to—they 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 others—and 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 statistics—anything 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

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 concerned with."

"The third major area is data, and that is both administrative data—the data created in the process of creating a government program—and also clean air information, clean water information, toxins released inventory, statistical data collected by survey."

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 change—as 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. "So—government 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, recordkeeping—you 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, FOIA—what 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 problem—certainly medical records are becoming a huge issue in the government—and the other major issue is security. This is an area where technology is seen to fundamentally change the way that the information is available."

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 already—as someone pointed out, if you drive up 95 between here and New York, you could get a good sense of where a terrorist might strike—but 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 libraries—the 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 information."

"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 firewall—and 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…although 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 administration—because 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 session.

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 allowed.

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 mistake.

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.


Panel III: Judicial Branch

—What changes, driven by the information economy, are foreseen in the judiciary in the 21st Century?

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 the lineup.

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

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 dispute.”

“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 characteristic—that 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 state’s 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 perception—perhaps the reality—that 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, Intel’s 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, including government.”

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 driver’s 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,” Ford said.

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 manipulated—either positively or negatively—threatens 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 information—information 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 system.”

Marcia Koslov

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 data.”
  • “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 recorded—ideas, 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 today’s legal and judicial system. Databases of experts, communities of practice—and best practices—can 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 “customers”—but 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-user—the 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 infomercial—it 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 for Kids.

“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 the self-represented.”

“Finally,” said 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 judiciary’s 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, and conservation.”

“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

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 house—in the eighteenth century, when the university was founded, the librarians saw their job as keeping the books under lock and key where the students wouldn’t get at them. We all know that when they burned the library in Alexandria, they destroyed the world’s 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 so evanescent.”

“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 we’re 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 Pooh fame].”

“What’s 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 what’s 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 reflux.”

“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 world.”

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 clerk’s 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 Kinko’s.”

“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? Murphy’s 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 day’s 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 Virginia’s 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 requirement—to 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 customers.”

“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 Branch.”

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 people—the 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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