House considers bill to limit “value added” database access
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Any computerized information developed by information providers under contract to the federal government would have been off-limits to Freedom of Information Act requesters under a bill introduced in early February in the House of Representatives.
However a barrage of telephone calls from constituents led members of the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight to eliminate during mark-up of the bill a section that would have made secret any information with “value added” by contractors.
Rep. William Clinger (R-Pa.) introduced the House bill to reauthorize the Paperwork Reduction Act after the Senate passed a Paperwork Reduction measure introduced by Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.). The Nunn bill did not contain the provision eliminating access to computer records enhanced by private contractors.
News of the measure on the Internet and announcements issued by the American Library Association and other information groups provoked a barrage of telephone calls, telefaxes and electronic mail messages to Representatives on the Committee.
During mark-up, Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) offered a substitute amendment that would have prevented the government from competing with any private sector information provider, a measure supported by Clinger, and one that would have cemented West Publishing’s claims to an exclusive reporting system for court decisions. However, the committee adopted without objection an amendment offered by Rep. Paul Kanjorski to delete the “value added” section and the Davis provision.
Clinger initially scheduled hearings on the Davis amendment, but cancelled them and referred the bill to the Committee’s Subcommittee on Government Management, Information and Technology. Rep. Stephen Horn (R-Calif.) is chairman of that subcommittee. (H.R. 830, S.244)