AAN joins demand for reports on public information removed from Government sites

AAN joins 68 organizations in demanding protections for information on government websites.

AAN is one of 69 organizations  who signed a letter demanding that the federal Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) issue guidance to federal agencies regarding changes to those agencies’ websites. The letter was signed by journalism and non-journalism organizations from all parts of the country in response to reports of public information being removed from various government websites (examples include the EPA, USDA and Department of Education websites).

As the letter notes, there has been no public information announcing which information is being removed from websites, leaving the public with no idea of what is no longer accessible online.  As a result the public has no way of knowing which government information is no longer accessible online; nor do we know what other agencies may be taking similar action in the future (and, further for the purposes of AAN members and other journalists, no way to track these changes and report on this issue at all).

The letter specifically asks the Acting Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), a division of OMB, to remind agencies that they are required under the Paperwork Reduction Act to give public notice before substantially modifying or terminating significant public information. The letter also notes that when significant changes are made to agency websites, agencies are required to schedule and transfer Federal web records – including data sets – to NARA for preservation.