United States Government Information: Hot Documents!

A basic guide to government information research at the Marrriott Library.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issues U.S. patent 8,000,000 today!

"It took 75 years to get to patent 1 million in August 1911, yet just six years to get from patent 7 million to today’s 8 millionth patent."


"The Department of the Interior plays a substantial role in the U.S. economy, supporting over two million jobs and approximately $363 billion in economic activity for 2010. American citizens and industry, at work and at play, all benefit from Interior’s natural and cultural resource management: maintaining lands for recreation, protecting cultural and historical resources, storing and conveying water, generating power, leasing mineral rights, and providing valuable information to mineral markets. "

Highlights include:

"439 million visits to Interior-managed lands. These visits supported over 388,000 jobs and contributed over $47 billion in economic activity.."

"Exploitation of oil, gas, coal, hydropower and other minerals on Federal lands supported 1.3 million jobs and $246 billion in economic activity.."

"Use of water, timber and other resources produced from Federal lands supported about 370,000 jobs and $48 billion in economic activity.."

Includes valuable and hard-to-find statistics on the 'Economic Impacts by States" - the number of jobs and value of economic output for each Interior activity, and detailed tables for recreation on public lands!

Unauthorized Alien Students: Issues and “DREAM Act” Legislation

Utah Data Guide Spring 2011

The Spring 2011 Utah Data Guide is now available online, and includes four pages of 2010 Census Redistricting Data for the State of Utah!

New CRS Reports on the Decline of Central American Security, and the Japanese Nuclear Incident

 Violent instability in Central America poses a growing threat to the countries of the region, with direct and indirect consequences for the United States, according to a new report (pdf) from the Congressional Research Service.

"The seven nations of Central America face significant security challenges. Well-financed and heavily armed criminal threats, fragile political and judicial systems, and persistent social hardships such as poverty and unemployment contribute to widespread insecurity in the region. The United States has allocated $260 million in security assistance to support Central America since FY2008 under what is now known as the Central America Regional Security Initiative; however, security conditions have continued to deteriorate," the CRS report said.

A copy of the report was obtained by Secrecy News.  See "Central America Regional Security Initiative: Background and Policy Issues for Congress," March 30, 2011.

Other noteworthy new CRS reports include the following (all pdf).

"The Japanese Nuclear Incident: Technical Aspects," March 31, 2011.

"Nuclear Power Plant Sites: Maps of Seismic Hazards and Population Centers," March 29, 2011.

"Japan's 2011 Earthquake and Tsunami: Economic Effects and Implications for the United States," March 25, 2011.

"Funeral Protests: Selected Federal Laws and Constitutional Issues," March 22, 2011.

"War in Afghanistan: Strategy, Military Operations, and Issues for Congress," March 9, 2011.


from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2011, Issue No. 31
April 4, 2011

Secrecy News Blog:  http://www.fas.org/blog/secrecy/

New GAO Report on Government Duplication and Waste

According to the March 1st  Washington Post, a new General Accounting Office (GAO) report issued today states that "Government overlap costs taxpayers billions..."

According to the article:  "Reducing or eliminating duplication, overlap, or fragmentation could potentially save billions of taxpayer dollars annually and help agencies provide more efficient and effective services," the GAO said. Merging or terminating operations as recommended in the report could save up to several billion dollars... The study, mandated last year as part of legislation raising the federal debt limit, is likely to be cited by lawmakers pushing for deeper spending cuts as part of ongoing budget negotiations."

The Economic Report of the President, 2011


The Economic Report of the President, 2011 is now available from the U.S. Government Printing Office. It is issued by the Executive Office of the President and the Council of Economic Advisers and transmitted to Congress no later than ten days after the submission of the Budget of the United States Government ... Documents are available in ASCII text and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF), with many of the tables also available for separate viewing and downloading as spreadsheets in Microsoft Excel (XLS).

The Economic Report of the President includes:

1. Current and foreseeable trends and annual numerical goals concerning topics such as employment, production, real income, and Federal budget outlays;

2. Employment objectives for significant groups of the labor force;

3. Annual numeric goals;

4. And a program for carrying out program objectives.

Also included is the Annual Report of the Council of Economic Advisers.

USPTO Director's Roundtable on the Patent & Trademark Depository Library (PTDL) Program

"SUMMARY: The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) wants to increase transparency by making USPTO information and materials more publicly available. USPTO information is currently disseminated through a variety of means, including through the Patent and Trademark Depository Library Program (PTDLP).

The PTDLP allows the USPTO, through public laws, to partner with state and municipal libraries around the United States to develop core expertise in patents and trademarks to ensure that potential filers have local resources to draw on for assistance and support. The USPTO has undertaken an overall revitalization of the PTDLP to reflect the new 21St Century electronic approach to customer service. As part of this initiative, the USPTO is conducting a public roundtable to obtain input from organizations and individuals on current use of the Patent and Trademark Depository Libraries (PTDLs) and how to more effectively use the PTDLP in the future."


The Financial Crisis Inquiry Report, and the Budget & Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2011-2021

Today's first HOTDOC!:

"Published by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, The Financial Crisis Inquiry Report investigates the causes of the financial and economic crisis of 2007-2010.

On May 20, 2009, President Obama signed into law an Act that established the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission to "examine the causes, domestic and global, of the current financial and economic crisis in the United States." During the course of its investigation, the ten person bipartisan committee reviewed millions of pages of documents, interviewed more than 700 witnesses, and held 19 days of public hearings in New York, Washington, D.C., and communities across the country that were hit hard by the crisis.

The final report presents the Commission's findings and conclusions and also contains 126 pages of dissenting views. The Commission terminates sixty days following the release of its final report."

(Announcement from the Government Printing Office, Federal Depository Library Program)

Our second HOTDOC! is the Budget & Economic Outlook Fiscal Years 2011-2021 (January 2011) from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).  The third HOTDOC! is a summary of the 190-page Outlook.

Fudging Healthcare Estimates

FAQ About Copyright on Issues Affecting the U.S. Government

CENDI (the Commerce, Energy, NASA, Defense Information Managers Group) has published an extensive list of Frequently Asked Questions About Copyright on Issues Affecting the U.S. Government (CENDI/2008-1, October 8, 2008).  This FAQ addresses many questions on the inclusion of copywritten works in digitized materials, and many other topics that would be of interest to those digitizing similar works for academia and other non-profit organizations.

CENDI (the Commerce, Energy, NASA, Defense Information Managers Group) was established in 1985 and continues work started by the Committee on Scientific and Technical Information (COSATI) in the early 1960s.  CENDI currently represents the major science agencies, the national libraries, and agencies involved in the dissemination and long-term management of scientific and technical information for the federal government.

Fallout from Wikileaks

In today's issue of "SECRECY NEWS from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy"
Volume 2010, Issue No. 95, December 1, 2010


Secrecy News Blog:  http://www.fas.org/blog/secrecy/

NIC Report on Global Governance 2025

"The National Intelligence Council has released its latest report - "Global Governance 2025: At a Critical Juncture."  This is a follow-up to their 2008 "Global Trends 2025" report.  According to their website this report 'provides an informal contribution to an important international debate on the way forward for global, regional, and bilateral institutions and frameworks to meet emerging challenges such as climate change, resource management, international migration flows, and new technologies.'

The full report is available as a PDF at http://www.foia.cia.gov/2025/2025_Global_Governance.pdf .  

The main site with additional information is available at http://www.dni.gov/nic/NIC_home.html

The "Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World (2008)" is available from  http://www.dni.gov/nic/NIC_2025_project.html  or directly at http://www.dni.gov/nic/PDF_2025/2025_Global_Trends_Final_Report.pdf

For additional information, see their press release - http://www.dni.gov/press_releases/20100920_release.pdf ."


Courtesy of Greta E. Marlatt, Dudley Knox Library, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA.

2010 Secrecy Report Card Published

"WASHINGTON, Sept. 7, 2010 — The 2010 Secrecy Report Card released today by OpenTheGovernment.org — a coalition of more than 70 groups advocating for open government — chronicles a continued decrease in most indicators of secrecy since the end of the Bush Administration and growing backlogs in the declassification system as old secrets move through the system.  The report covers the first 9 months of President Obama’s Administration, which he pledged would be the most open, transparent and accountable in history."

Read the report here:

New FRUS volume shows declass strengths, weaknesses

from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2010, Issue No. 74
September 20, 2010

A new volume of the State Department's official Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series on the war in Vietnam, published this month, embodies both the strengths and the weaknesses of the government document declassification program.

The new FRUS volume presents an exceptionally vivid and interesting account of the Nixon Administration's conduct of the war, beginning with the aftermath of the invasion of Cambodia.  It also "documents President Nixon's penchant for secret operations and covert warfare."  Several such secret operations "are documented in some detail to demonstrate the role of covert actions in support of overt political and military operations."  See "Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969-1976, Volume VII, Vietnam, July 1970-January 1972," published September 8, 2010.

While the 1100 page volume (pdf) provides rich testimony to the value of the declassification process, it also highlights its surprising limitations.

For one thing, the process is painfully slow.  Declassification review of this volume took four years, the Preface states, from 2006 to 2010.  At that glacial rate, the State Department will never fulfill its statutory obligation to publish the record of U.S. foreign policy no later than 30 years after the fact.

What's worse is that U.S. government agencies continue to use an obsolete template for making declassification decisions.  So while various covert actions are "documented in some detail," the amount of money spent on those same covert actions is scrupulously redacted at more than a dozen points with the parenthetical notation "dollar amount not declassified" -- as if the publication of these budget figures could possibly have any bearing on national security today.

Adding to the evident confusion, the dollar figures for covert action were nevertheless published in one of the documents (document 202 at page 617), which notes that "Funds in the amount of $235,000 for FY 1971 and $228,000 for FY 1972 were approved [for certain covert actions]."

Was this a declassification "error"?  A publishing oversight?  It's not clear.

Susan Weetman, the General Editor of the FRUS series, said that the publication decisions on covert actions were determined by the so-called "High Level Panel" (HLP) which is comprised of senior representatives of the State Department, CIA and National Security Council.

"While the release of some dollar amounts and the excision of others may appear inconsistent, it has been the policy of the HLP to approve the declassification of the overall budget figure for a covert action (occasionally broken out by fiscal year), but not release the specifics of how the money was spent," Ms. Weetman told Secrecy News.

In the present case, however, there is an unusual amount of detail about "how the money was spent."  It's just the dollar figures that (in most cases) have been withheld.

The release of this FRUS volume, along with another volume on Vietnam published September 16, was timed to coincide with an upcoming State Department Office of the Historian conference on "The American Experience in Southeast Asia, 1946-1975".

One of the recurring themes in the Vietnam covert action volume is the prevalence of leaks of classified information, and the need to take drastic action to combat them.

"You will see leaks all over town in the next few weeks on this issue," Henry Kissinger told a group of Congressmen at a March 23, 1971 meeting "because the intelligence community is like a hysterical group of Talmudic scholars doing an exegesis of abstruse passages.  If any of you are on an intelligence subcommittee, you might find this a good reason to cut the budget for the intelligence agencies," Kissinger suggested (at page 466).


from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2010, Issue No. 66
August 18, 2010


Catastrophic flooding in Pakistan, which has displaced millions of persons over the last several weeks, submerged huge portions of the country, and crippled much of the nation's infrastructure, is first and foremost a humanitarian crisis that requires an urgent international response.  But it also may have national, regional and global security implications.

"Environmental stresses, when combined with the other socio-economic and political stresses on Pakistan, have the potential to further weaken an already weak Pakistani state," the Congressional Research Service observed in a new report (pdf) this month.  "Such a scenario would make it more difficult to achieve the U.S. goal of neutralizing anti-Western terrorists in Pakistan.  Some analysts argue that disagreements over water could also exacerbate tensions between India and Pakistan."

The new CRS report "examines the potentially destabilizing effect that, when combined with Pakistan's demographic trends and limited economic development, water scarcity, limited arable land, and food security may have on an already radicalized internal and destabilized international political-security environment."

The CRS report does not come out and say so, but it points clearly to the conclusion that a U.S. foreign policy that gave greater emphasis to relief and reconstruction would have much to recommend it, even (or especially) from a national security point of view.  See "Security and the Environment in Pakistan," August 3, 2010.

As is often pointed out, Congress does not permit CRS to make its publications directly available to the general public. 

Secrecy News Blog:  http://www.fas.org/blog/secrecy/

Congressional Research Service on the Deepwater Horizon incident

"Several issues for Congress have emerged as a result of the Deepwater Horizon incident. What
lessons should be drawn from the incident? What technological and regulatory changes may be
needed to meet risks peculiar to drilling in deeper water? How should Congress distribute costs
associated with a catastrophic oil spill? What interventions may be necessary to ensure recovery
of Gulf resources and amenities? What does the Deepwater Horizon incident imply for national
energy policy, and the tradeoffs between energy needs, risks of deepwater drilling, and protection
of natural resources and amenities?"


"Become a watchdog to hold the government accountable for the stimulus recovery dollars being spent. StimulusWatch uses data from Recovery.gov and Data.gov but is easier to use. Search for a contract, grant, or loan by keyword or browse by recipient or awarding federal agency. You can find a project near you by browsing by state or by city."

Courtesy of Ray Mathews, Utah State Library.

Pew Study on American's Use of Online Government

"As government agencies at all levels bring their services online, Americans are turning in
large numbers to government websites to access information and services. Fully 82% of
internet users (representing 61% of all American adults) looked for information or
completed a transaction on a government website in the twelve months preceding this

Currently in the News!

Newly available government information

'Too Fat To Fight'

"The MISSION: READINESS group released its report "Too Fat to Fight" to today.  The report is available at:


According to the press release over 9 million young adults are too overweight to join the military.  


MISSION: READINESS http://www.missionreadiness.org/  is a non-profit, bi-partisan group with over 130 retired admirals, generals and other senior military leaders."

SECRECY NEWS from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy


In what may be the Obama Administration's single most significant reduction in national security secrecy to date, the Department of Defense this week published the first unclassified Nuclear Posture Review.

The Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) defines U.S. nuclear weapons policy, strategy and force structure.  As such, it is one of the most important national security policy documents in government.  Two previous Reviews conducted by the Clinton and Bush Administrations in 1994 and 2001 were classified and were not meant to be made public...

But this week, in a tangible sign of changing national security secrecy standards, Defense Secretary Robert Gates held a press conference to release the latest NPR document (pdf) himself...


In May 2009, North Korea announced that it had conducted its second nuclear explosive test.  Although the event generated a seismic signature consistent with a nuclear explosion, it produced no detectable release of radioactive gases or particulates (fallout).  This either means that North Korea actually conducted a non-nuclear simulation of a nuclear test, or else it managed to achieve complete containment of a real nuclear explosion.  Since detection of radioactive emissions provides the most unambiguous confirmation of a nuclear explosion, the successful containment of a nuclear test could be problematic for verification of a treaty banning such explosions.

This conundrum is explored in a new report from the Congressional Research Service.  See "North Korea's 2009 Nuclear Test: Containment, Monitoring, Implications" (pdf), April 2, 2010...



   The Federation of American Scientists Project on Government Secrecy


Health Care Reform

Digest of Education Statistics, 2009

Hot off the press -- April 7, 2010!

"The 45th in a series of publications initiated in 1962, the Digest's primary purpose is to provide a compilation of statistical information covering the broad field of American education from prekindergarten through graduate school. The Digest contains data on a variety of topics, including the number of schools and colleges, teachers, enrollments, and graduates, in addition to educational attainment, finances, and federal funds for education, libraries, and international comparisons."



Earlier Digests of Education Statistics, 1990-2009

   http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/getpubcats.asp?sid=091#  (click on plus sign next to 'Digest of Education Statistics' in blue font.)

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