Magazine article Information Today

IIA Proposes Policy Framework to Guarantee Continuing Public Access to Government Information

Magazine article Information Today

IIA Proposes Policy Framework to Guarantee Continuing Public Access to Government Information

Article excerpt

IIA Proposes Policy Framework To Guarantee Continuing Public Access To Government Information

Appearing at the first of several hearings to be held by the House Subcommittee on Government Information, Justice, and Agriculture on Federal Information Policy, the Information Industry Association (IIA) proposed a policy framework to guarantee continuing public access to government information.

Testifying on behalf of the IIA, Kenneth B. Allen, senior vice president for Government Relations, stated the "ability of citizens to acquire government information is essential to the public's right to know and to the preservation of our individual freedoms." However, new computer and communications technologies that have fundamentally reshaped the ways in which information is created, used, and distributed, have raised significant concerns as to whether citizens will continue to have access to government information. Major challenges include recent efforts to narrow the scope of the Freedom of Information Act; the inherent lack of resources necessary for government to meet the needs of information users; and the incompatibility between a democracy and a government information monopoly.

Allen stated: "The goal of Federal information dissemination policy should be to ensure that citizens have access to the government information they want and need in the most efficient and effective manner." He went on to note: "It is the position of the IIA that the public interest is best served when citizen access to government information is guaranteed through a working partnership between all levels of government, the private sector information industry, non-profit groups, and the important intermediaries in the library and education community." The IIA urged the Subcommittee to support the establishment of a clear government-wide policy framework for information dissemination policy based on the following principles: . Citizens have a right of access to public information. . Government should employ new information technologies to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of government programs and services. . Citizens should not be dependent upon government as the primary or sole source of information. Freedom of speech can only survive by ensuring a diversity of voices and sources through the marketplace of ideas independent of the uncertainties of the appropriations process. . Government policy should seek to establish and preserve a diversity of voices and information sources by encouraging a fair and competitive marketplace for information products and services. …

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