An Information Policy White Paper:

Sharpening the Focus on Information Policy:  The Experiences of Five States

Carol Sirkowski & Robert Warren, Authors

Delaware Public Administration Institute
Graduate College of Urban Affairs and Public Policy
University of Delaware
Newark, DE 19716

June 1996

The DPA Institute is pleased to publish the following report, "Sharpening the Focus on Information Policy: 
The Experiences of Five States," written by Carol Sirkowski and Robert Warren.  This report was published
originally for the April 1995 Delaware Policy Forum, "An Information Policy for Delaware:  Issues in Public
Service, Access, Cost, and Privacy."  It has been revised slightly since its original printing.  This project was
supported, in part, by funding provided by the Delaware Office of Information Services.

The purpose of the paper is to provide a background of information from the federal government and five
states which were known to have substantial experience in addressing some of the many issues involved in
information policy.  The states included in the report are: Florida, Kentucky, Minnesota, New York and

I would like to thank the two authors for their outstanding work on this project.  I would also like to thank
Jack Nold, Director of the Delaware Office of Information Services; Sarah Jackson, Secretary of Finance;
Howard Lowell, Administrator, Delaware State Archives; and Tim Slavin, Deputy Director Administrator
and Information Policy & Technology Coordinator for their assistance on this project.  

Jerome R. Lewis

The Delaware Public Administration Institute links the research and resources of the University of Delaware
with the management and information needs of local, state, and regional governments in the Delaware Valley. 
The Institute provides assistance to agencies and local governments through direct staff assistance and
research projects as well as training programs and policy forums.  The Delaware Public Administration
Institute is located on the University's Newark Campus in 180 Graham Hall.  Jerome Lewis is the director of
the Institute and he can be contacted at 302-831-8971.

Inside This Report:

Executive Summary

Section 1:  Background
Pieces of the Puzzle
The Federal Role
OMB Circular No. A-130
E-mail Public Record Status
Framework of the Report

Section 2:  Building a Focus on State Information Policy
Policy Leadership from Professional Groups
State FOIAs and Online Legislation

Section 3:  Five Models of State Policy Making
Legislative Model: Florida
Commission Model: Kentucky
Administrative Management Model: Minnesota
Decentralized Recordkeeping Model: New York
Public Private Partnership Model: Wisconsin




Executive Summary

State governments are in the forefront of dealing with a combination of traditional and emerging issues that
can be defined as information policy.  Freedom of information regulations no longer relate specifically to who
can see what information.  Current advances in telecommunications and information technology now involve
questions about costs and formats for the data that is accessible.  Given the rapid changes in technology,
electronic storage of archival records faces the problem of whether the equipment required to retrieve the data
will be obsolete or even available in a decade or two.  When is an E-mail message a public record?  Who is
responsible for "obscene" messages transmitted over the system of an Internet operator which may be a
public agency?  These and related issues, however, have been intermixed with and overshadowed by the more
visible and contentious debates over state and national deregulation of local and long distance telephone
service and cable systems.  

This report focuses on information policy at the state level.  It is organized to provide a picture of the array of
issues that state governments are facing in relation to information policy.  In doing so, the role of the federal
government and professional and advocacy groups which impact state policy making are discussed.  Of
particular interest is how state governments have undertaken the development and formulation of information
policy in response to changing technology and the broader national context within which they must operate. 
Florida, Kentucky, Minnesota, New York, and Wisconsin were selected for review to provide a picture of the
alternative models of policy making that have been followed.  Florida's activities are legislatively based and
work through a standing joint legislative committee.  Kentucky utilizes a commission for policy formulation. 
Minnesota and New York have adopted administrative management approaches with the former highly
centralized and the latter decentralized.  Wisconsin has set up a public-private partnership team primarily
oriented toward economic development.

Finally, the authors assess policy making options and conclude that information policy decisions can take
place in a variety of institutional settings.  However, critical factors include having a well-focused mechanism
for debating alternatives, reaching and implementing decisions, and reviewing information policy on an
ongoing basis.  Legislative and executive leadership have proven to be important elements in defining and
implementing a successful information policy at the state level.  This review demonstrates the legitimate use
of various organizational structures and emerging patterns of issues such as access, cost, privacy, and
technology that continue to come up in information policy discussions.  This suggests that it is shortsighted to
focus solely on either technology or equity issues as the entirety of the policy debate.  

Section 1:  Background

Most state governments today are looking for ways to utilize rapidly evolving telecommunications and
information technology to improve management processes, service delivery, and provision of information to
citizens.  According to a 1994 survey conducted by the National Association of State Directors of
Administration and General Services, a majority of states use the Internet, have E-mail, video conference and
800-number phone services, and at least sixteen states operate information kiosks (1995).  Legislative action
in a number of states can be electronically tracked by citizens and advocacy groups, with a majority of states
either supporting or planning to construct legislative home pages on the World Wide Web
(; "States," 1995).  At the same time, states are grappling
with an increasing variety of policy issues that have been made more complex by new technology.  The array
of issues includes such things as:

balancing privacy rights and freedom of information rights;

planning for local and wide area networks that can communicate with one another--interoperability;

deciding when interagency E-mail messages are public documents;

converting, maintaining, and retrieving public archives in electronic form;

determining fair prices to citizens and businesses for access to government-generated data.

Pieces of the Puzzle

Governments have a long and deep tradition in the business of information.  Data is collected, used, and
stored for local property tax rolls; agencies circulate information about their services; copies of proposed
legislation make the rounds of lobbyists, lawyers, public advocacy groups and ordinary citizens.  Nonetheless,
the recognition that there is a need for an explicit state information policy and attempts to define what is
properly within the policy are more recent.  State public records laws date back to the beginning of this
century, but for the most part state freedom of information laws were not enacted until after passage of the
federal law in 1966.1  It was not until the late 1980s that academicians and practitioners began to work
together in public forums on developing the framework for the study of state information policy (Caudle &
Marchand, 1989; McIntosh, 1990; Reporters Committee, 1994).  

Government and citizens interact in a number of ways. Sometimes the quality of the interaction is almost
visceral as in the yearly tax "bite" on April 15th, or the draft notice "greetings" from Uncle Sam during World
War II.  Nonetheless, the term information policy does not always summon forth a clear image of the range of
interactions involved for citizens and for policy makers.  Information policy, for example, addresses issues
related to how government gets data about citizens and what kinds of data citizens can obtain about the
government and their fellow citizens.

Information policy must also address questions about how rapidly-changing technology  should affect
interactions between citizens and government.  Technology provides tools to more easily collect, access, and
manipulate large amounts of data.  It can provide a means to identify a specific individual out of the aggregate
mass of health, education, social service, consumer and other records for little cost.  How this capacity is
exercised, however, involves questions of individual privacy. 

Since computerized databases are easily manipulated, the names and salaries of state employees or the
demographics of the state workforce can be made available for publication.  Similarly, marketing companies
are seeking access to mailing lists and government databases, particularly those used in geographic
information systems, which allow the pinpointing of people with particular demographic profiles.  Here
policy needs to decide the balance between freedom of information and the individual's right to privacy and, if
the data are made accessible, what cost should be attached to it.  Issues involve general freedom of
information questions, and whether different charges should be made if public data is to be used for private

Even when profit is not a factor, a state that holds centralized records and promotes data sharing between
agencies must decide on both the use of technology and the policy to hold back from widespread distribution
those fields within the database that contain sensitive health and economic data.2  Even with selective
shielding, the collection and release of confidential health data needed to protect public health and to
authorize third-party payments creates a real potential for unintended consequences.3  In this case,
information policy can be used to balance the state's obligation to protect both individual rights and the
collective good.

From a service perspective, technology can make any number of transactions faster, cheaper, and more
convenient, qualities that appeal to both individuals and to government.  As an example, tax forms can be
filed electronically from private tax preparation services or sent by fax from home computers rather than
mailed.  For those without access to a computer but still looking for quick, convenient service, Massachusetts
became the first state to provide interactive voice response telephone service for state tax returns  (Miller,
"Tax filing," 1995; Stevens, 1995).  In some states, job seekers are able to search for current government and
private sector postings by pressing the screen of a kiosk located in public buildings or in shopping malls. 
Information technology changes the format for interaction between citizens and government.  The perceived
efficiency and responsiveness of electronic interaction are making the use of new technology increasingly
attractive as a mode of service delivery even though states are otherwise trimming their budgets (Stevens,
1995).  There is some evidence that states, which may need to further stretch their financial and human
resources in taking over welfare and health care programs formerly housed in the federal government, may
invest in new technology for these services rather than for other telecommunications-based applications.  Info
California kiosks and the Hawaii Inc web site are two services where budget have just been cut.  (Gurwitt,
1995;; "Info," 1996).

Identification of a single information policy issue such as privacy or data costs quickly calls forth a set of
other related issues.  Consequently, a comprehensive state information policy is more than a single act of
legislation, but there is no consensus on what is proper to include within the boundaries of an information
policy set.  Most frequently suggested are freedom of information and public records acts, sunshine laws
governing meetings, laws governing promulgation of Executive Branch regulations, and statutes governing
libraries, archives, and other institutions involved in generating or maintaining the records of government
activity.  States, however, define themselves as economic as well as governmental entities and do compete
directly with each other in the global economy.  As a result, an up-to-date telecommunications infrastructure
can be seen as a necessary public asset for commerce, and telecommunications regulation, state network
deployment, and other high-profile concerns related to economic development may be thought of as
appropriate information policy matters as well.4

Placing an emphasis on economic development is easily understood in light of the keen competition to keep
established companies and to attract new companies in today's global economic structure which permits
business and industry to fragment and spread operations across state and national borders.  State networks,
such as the Information Network of Kansas (INK) and Texas-One have been designed, in part, as a means to
facilitate remote permitting and bidding for public sector RFPs (Request for Proposal) and, more generally,
for private sector electronic commerce needs (INK, 1993; Kavanaugh, 1995).  Here the policy issues focus
less on general public access to government information and more on efficiency gains and network security. 5 
These networks require early initiation of standards for electronic data interchange (EDI) and digital
signatures in order to make a full range of safe and valid transactions possible (Mechling, 1995; Miller, "How
to sign," 1995).6  

The Federal Role

Federal initiatives represent a mixed blessing from the perspective of state government.  National leadership
can provide models for state policy and set common standards but can also be viewed as an undesirable or
misguided attempt to pre-empt the right of states to regulate information policy within their own boundaries. 
On one hand, the national administration is strongly promoting the development of the National Information
Infrastructure (NII) in which state governments can play an important role.  Congress, on the other hand,
passed S. 652, the Telecommunications Act of 1996 which revamped the Communications Act of 1934 and
changed the traditional roles of state and local government in regulating telephone and cable services.7 
Additionally, the Communications Decency Act provisions enacted as part of the telecommunications
legislation would make Internet system operators, which could include universities and public agencies, liable
for "obscene" messages transmitted over their systems.8

Agencies in state government are familiar with a variety of federal actions that have local impact, including
the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular
No. A-130 guidelines for management of information and information resources.  Additionally, the Office of
Management and Budget has authorized a Government Information Locator Service (GILS) and Congress
passed legislation providing guidelines for pricing government information so that it does not exceed the cost
of dissemination.  

The federal information policy connection that is probably the most widely recognized by average citizens is
the National Information Infrastructure (NII).  The NII was put forth by the Clinton administration as a
national public infrastructure agenda and refers not only to the wires, but also to the public and commercial
applications, regulations and standards, interoperability, privacy, security and copyright issues, and access
policies guiding the growth and development of networked information technology.  Technology and business
goals are one only part of the NII agenda.  Information policy fits more closely with the NIIs social goals for
universal citizen access, for improvements in education and in health care delivery, and democratic goals for
increased citizen participation in government.  As a demonstration of the NIIs commitment to the public
good, a two-week national electronic open meeting, People and their Governments in the Information Age,
was held on the Internet in May 1995 to solicit public comment on how government can improve service
delivery and availability of information and increase citizen participation using information technologies
(NTIA, 1995).9  

Although the spotlight on building up the NII focuses primarily on the national government, the necessary
steps to establishing it rests to a large extent on the states, particularly in relation to fostering the speed with
which telephone and cable companies provide access to the technology.

OMB Circular No. A-130, Management of federal information resources.  In the 1980s the federal
government, like the states, recognized the cost of managing information and the potential value of
information as a strategic asset.  The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980 (reauthorized 1986, 1995) had made
the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) responsible for both the standards and the management of
federal information resources and information technology.10   OMB in turn developed Circular No. A-130,
Management of federal information resources, in 1985; the most recent revision of the Circular became
effective on July 15, 1994.  The latest revision encourages the innovative use of information technology, and
specifically the Internet, as a means for agencies to interact with the public; the entire text of Circular A-130
is available for reading and downloading at no charge through the National Technical Information Service
(NTIS) FedWorld website (  

Since its debut, Circular A-130 has frequently elicited intense debate.  Because it promoted reliance on the
private sector for dissemination of federally-gathered information, the Circular has been accused of being
biased toward the private sector.  Even if the Government Printing Office (GPO) remains intact, the budget is
likely to be cut, and this may further strengthen any private-sector bias.  

Although the Circular continues to define numerous terms, including "record" and "information life cycle",
definition of the term "access to information"--the function of providing to members of the public, upon their
request, the government information to which they are entitled under law--was deleted in 1993 because its use
caused confusion.  In its place, the Circular maintains that the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act
and the Privacy Act provide for access to federal agency records (McClure, 1988; McIntosh, 1990; OMB
Circular No. A-130, rev. 1993).  Circular A-130 emphasizes records management as a part of information
policy and calls for consultation between the federal government and state governments in the development of
certain federal policies.  In part because of this anticipated consultation, states have come to rely on the
Circular's guidelines when developing their own records management policies.  

E-mail Public Record Status.  In Armstrong v. the Executive Office of the President (the PROFS case),
E-mail was determined to be subject to public information rules.  PROFS stands for the IBM PROFS
computer system used for the White House E-mail system.  On Reagan's last day in office, as the National
Security Council was about to destroy backup tapes which included North's E-mail messages, Armstrong,
head of the National Security Archive sued, claiming that the tapes constituted public records which should
be preserved.  Although it has close ties to the federal government, the National Security Archive is actually a
private research organization housed at George Washington University's Gelman Library.  The Washington,
DC District Court agreed with Armstrong, as has the U.S. Court of Appeals; the latest appeal was denied
after the Clinton administration argued again that the computer tapes of E-mail messages between officials
did not need to be preserved because a paper printout could be made instead.  A paper printout, of course,
may not retain the full context, including the date that it was received, any message to which the E-mail
replies or refers, and others on the same system who may also be privy to that electronic information (Lewis,
1993; McIntosh, 1990).  

The outcome of the PROFS ruling that E-mail transactions concerning public business are public records and
that context as well as content needs to be preserved may be extended to states as well; work on retention
rules is in progress (Miller, 1995).  This presents at least three problems:  state workers' belief that their
E-mail is private; accounts on commercial services used either by state workers or by the public to
communicate with state officials; and the technical requirements of maintaining the directories, distribution
lists, calendars and associated word processing and spreadsheet applications that can be used with E-mail. 
Technical problems include, of course, the need for system security and backups (Delaware Bureau of
Archives and Records Management Circular 1995-01, [Draft] 1995).  

There is no question that federal policies and regulations will be major factors affecting how state information
policy evolves.  Yet as will be shown in subsequent discussion, many of the trial and error steps and
programmatic experiments that are necessary in the shaping of effective information policy are occurring at
the state level.  State archivists, librarians, information system administrators, and political and civic leaders
are widely involved in state as well as national dialogues.

Framework of the Report

The purpose of the remainder of this report is three-fold.  First, it provides a context for identifying the array
of issues that are collectively becoming the components of what is being labeled information policy.  This
area involves public debates, legislative and administrative actions on new issues, and the reconsideration of
old questions that have been generated by recent developments in telecommunications and information
technology.  Second, it discusses alternative ways in which state governments have sought to consider and
formulate information policy.  Primary attention is given to five quite different policy formulation models that
have been adopted or evolved in Florida, Kentucky, Minnesota, New York, and Wisconsin.  Finally, the
report considers how experience at the state level elsewhere can be utilized in current information policy
discussions and debates in Delaware.

Research for this report was conducted in 1994 and early 1995.  The initial step was to pull together as many
publications and documents relevant to state information policy available at the University of Delaware and
from a number of state administrators in Delaware.  Telephone calls were then made to update these materials
and to identify additional sources.  Contact was made with the National Council of State Legislatures
(NCSL), the Council of State Governments (CSG), the National Association of Government Archives and
Records Administrators (NAGARA), and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press among other
groups.  Twenty-eight states shared either copies of their statutes, legislative proposals, or reports outlining
their information policy or information technology initiatives.  Other resources include the proceedings of six
groundbreaking policy forums relating to information policy which took place in various parts of the country
in the late 1980s and early 1990s.  Finally, as befits the fluid and dynamic nature of the topic and the problem
of instantaneous obsolescence of many printed items, information was also garnered from the Internet.

Section 2: Building a Focus on State Information Policy.

"Policy . . . arises from grassroots concern about particular problems that cluster about an issue . . . What
becomes state information policy will be driven by the problems accumulating in this issue area.  If we can,
then, identify some of the problems or issues in this area that can only be resolved through the development
of state statutes, regulations or policies, we can get a pretty good idea of what a state 'omnibus' information
policy might contain."  E. Norman Sims, Director of State Services, The Council of State Governments,
speaking at Gateways to Comprehensive State Information Policy in 1988 ("Proceedings," 1988, p. 13).

"No single piece of legislation is likely to adequately address the values and interests at play in establishing
comprehensive information policy . . . "  James A. Nelson, Chair Kentucky Information Systems Commission
Special Committee on Information Policy ("Current Issues," 1988, Introduction).

A landmark study focusing on information technology in twenty-three states was undertaken in 1988-1989. 
This survey was directed by the Syracuse University School of Information Studies, with the assistance of the
National Association for State Information Systems, Inc., and received funding from twelve corporations
involved in telecommunications technology.  The survey looked at the functions and activities of information
system directors, records managers and state librarians; subsequent case study analysis highlighted the vision
and goals of selected programs.  

The Syracuse study discovered that in the area of information technology states tended to separate policy and
planning from operational units; for the most part, groups external to the central state organization took the
primary responsibility for policy formulation and for assessing future needs.  Use of external advisory groups
were a relatively new phenomenon; almost none had existed prior to 1984.  The study concluded that
information and information technologies were uniformly viewed as valuable strategic assets to be managed
for the good of the state and the citizens of the state.  Although budgetary concerns predominated the study,
citizen rights were specifically addressed by citing Kentucky's stand on the right of public access to
governmental information and Minnesota's people principle.  The people principle holds that the purpose of
information management is "to provide information to people in an organized manner that will assist them in
making decisions . . . to improve the delivery of services" (Caudle & Marchand, 1989, p. 49).

At roughly the same time, the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA) sponsored a seminal
information policy conference, Gateways to Comprehensive State Information Policy:  A Conference for State
Government Stakeholders, held in Lexington, Kentucky.  The keynote speaker was Donald Marchand, Dean
of the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University and the primary mover behind the state survey
described above.  Marchand was already a veteran in the field, having worked in the mid-1980s with the
South Carolina Budget and Control Board on management strategies for that state.  It was during this project
that Marchand saw a link between state management policies, which looked at the efficient internal
functioning of state government, and the implications of such policies externally on citizens.  This defines a
set of issues concerning the content and uses of state information in a democracy, including the public right to
access, the public right to privacy, and private sector redistribution of government information.  In setting out
information policy to Gateways participants, Marchand defined an active role for citizens, both as the
customers of state information and, through their taxes, as the financiers of information asset management
("Gateways Proceedings," 1988).  

In response to technological change and the National Performance Review's call for more efficient
government in the early 1990s, a group of state officials developed a new vision for state government.  This
group, the State Information Policy Consortium, was supported by the National Governors' Association
(NGA), the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), and the Council of State Governments
(CSG).  The Consortium model for service provision proposed that citizens and government interact via
multimedia kiosks set up in public libraries, shopping centers, or recreation centers.  Citizens would be able
to register to vote, renew drivers' licenses, get fishing and hunting licenses or copies of birth certificates,
search for job openings or check real estate prices and property values at these 24-hour city halls without
walls.  School board meeting agendas, citizen surveys, jury duty, and other community information would be
transacted via interactive workstations located in homes.  The principles underlying the service use of
information technologies were:  to improve governmental services; to promote citizen access to public
information and government services; and to promote economic efficiency and social improvements.  The
Consortium's key goal was to promote a user-oriented government in which integrated service delivery and
dissemination of information to citizens would draw citizens in and thus provide a model for universal access. 
Their vision was that of government outreach, of moving services and service information to citizens rather
than moving citizens to information.11  

The Telecommunications Steering Committee of the National Governors Association (NGA) organized a
series of meetings during 1993 and 1994 on the significance to states of a national information infrastructure. 
State officials, industry representatives, and representatives from professional groups involved in
telecommunications participated.  Among other issues, discussions focused on the status of the
telecommunications industry, new and emerging applications, the role for regulation, and the meaning of
universal service.  The NGA group noted that universal service is actually two issues, service and access. 
Service can mean providing for the physical connections, the wires that carry telecommunications; access is
making available a certain range of services over those connections.  The group concluded that ongoing
government subsidy may be necessary to ensure adequate access to information technologies.  The precise
definition of adequate access, and of universal access, however, remain unsettled (NGA Telecommunications,
1994).  As state employees became increasingly familiar with using the Internet, individuals developed
agency homepages either in conjunction with state efforts or as independent listings.  One early user was
Minnesota, where sites were established by agencies involved in the arts, transportation, education, and health 
(Govt@Internet, 1995; Jackson, 1995).  

Policy Leadership from Professional Groups

The members of key national organizations are themselves both stakeholders and leaders in framing
information policy issues.  Organizations have outlined their goals and visions in policy papers and in
nationwide policy forums in which librarians, archivists, and records managers from the state and national
levels have jointly participated.

For example, the library community and the archives community are each taking a vigorous advocacy role in
identifying key information policy issues.  The National Commission on Libraries and Information Science
(NCLIS) hosted the 1991 White House conference on libraries and information services.  This forum
produced a detailed, prioritized list of recommendations with implementation suggestions; one priority
recommendation is to expand the flow of information, particularly government information, to the people
("Information 2000 Summary Report," 1991).  ALA, the American Library Association, participated in a
1993 forum where fifteen national library and information associations reached consensus on principles to
guide the development of the NII.  These principles include:  protection of intellectual freedom, First
Amendment rights, privacy, and intellectual property; interoperability standards to ensure full and complete
two-way access; and equitable and affordable access ("ALA Principles," circa 1993).  

Another group concerned with safeguarding what has been created is the National Archives and Records
Administration (NARA).  Here the group's interests and actions are also focused on current and future needs
of citizens in the information age.  When the new Archives II facility in College Park, Maryland opened, full
Internet functionality allowed for remote browsing of the full list of available documents, in additional to a
fax-on-demand retrieval service.  According to Peter Hirtle of the policy and IRM services, as soon as the
gopher site became operational, it was accessed more than 100 times an hour.  Additionally, the Center for
Electronic Records at Archives II has a number of major federal databases and survey results available for ftp
(file transfer protocol) access (personal communication January 20, 1995).  

The Internet is part of NARAs plan to implement full remote access, a need that was refined in a major study
in Nebraska by NARA and the National Institutes of Standards and Technology ("User study," 1994).  In
addition to the original Archives I site in Washington, D.C. and the nearby Archives II site, NARA maintains
several regional sites.12  Even before planning the new Archives II building, however, remote access had
been identified as a priority because a large number of Americans are without easy land access to an archives

NARA became an independent agency in 1985; since that time, one major goal has been to deliver federal
government information to all citizens (personal communication, January 24, 1995; Hirtle, 1995).  Along this
line, NARA is trying to better serve its traditional users--information providers, historians, government
employees, business and law professionals, and veterans--and is actively working to appeal to new users such
as agriculturalists, environmentalists, and educators.  Outreach embodies the proactive stance promoted both
by the National Performance Review and the NII goals for citizen participation. 

"Information is the lifeblood of modern state government." (NAGARA, 1992, p.1).  The indispensability of
information gives rise to the formal mission of the National Association of Government Archives and
Records Administrators (NAGARA): to promote the effective use and management of government
information.  NAGARA does much more than oversee the disposition of the paper generated by bureaucracy. 
In recommending an active and comprehensive approach to state information policy, for instance, NAGARA
developed a definition of government information policy as "the philosophy, statutes, regulations, and
standards which guide the creation, management, and use of government information by the government and
by the public"  (NAGARA, 1992, p. 1).  NAGARA challenges states to consider the question at the nucleus
of information policy--how to define a public record--and supports strong partnerships among local, state,
and federal government (NAGARA, 1994).  

The Food Stamp Program, which generates multiple layers of governmental records, provided an opportunity
for just the kind of strong partnership espoused by NAGARA.  In 1993, NAGARA joined with NARA, the
USDA Food and Nutrition Service and the state archives of Alabama, Massachusetts, New York, South
Carolina, Utah, and Virginia to look at the retention and destruction requirements that the Food Stamp
Program placed on state and local governments, and at the usefulness of the paperless record keeping system
pioneered by the Tennessee Food Stamp office.  The final report calls for data quality and digital signature
standards in the record keeping process in order to protect the legal status of electronic records and to ensure
court admissibility.  Additionally, E-mail connections need to be set up between governmental layers to
provide for a truly integrated cooperative structure (NAGARA, 1995).  

Archival records are more than the musty stacks of paper records fastened with the red cloth tape which gave
rise to the enduring concept of bureaucratic red tape.  Since the advent of computers, archival records are also
stacks of 3.5 inch plastic disks and reels of backup tapes.  In keeping with the trend to make government
operate more like a business, agencies are looking to create, manipulate, and store records using a variety of
mediums.  Many of the records created by the public sector actually form the living record of democracy in
action and need to be preserved in perpetuity.  Therefore when technology changes and records are stored in
new formats, the reliability of the storage medium and the continued availability of the machinery--the
hardware, the software, and the expertise to use them--must be assured.  Actual efficiency gains from the use
of new technologies should take into account both the benefits from the use of new methods and the burden of
providing for continuing access and of providing long-term security from physical damage and also from
unauthorized access.  Additionally, in a decentralized system, storage, equipment, and expertise may be the
primary responsibility of the agencies or departments originating the records.  

Onsite preservation presents a paradigm shift for archivists who are accustomed to the central repository. 
Likewise, providing access to current and historic information using the Internet cuts across traditional library
and archival roles.  Providing new means of access will require educating archivists, librarians and the public
on the full range of traditional and emerging activities.  Archives are still useful places to trace genealogy and
to view old maps, documents, and memorabilia, but the safety of archived material is more than good public
relations.  Accountability is an essential link in the chain of evidence when records are later retrieved for use
in court. 

Librarians and archivists are responding to the challenges of technology by taking a proactive role in
developing policy options through professional groups.  As an example, in May 1994, the Council of State
Historical Records Coordinators (COSHRC) and NAGARA announced joint sponsorship of State Archival
Records and the National Information Infrastructure:  A Planning Project to establish and coordinate
protocols for remote access.

State FOIAs and Online Legislature

Although there is a growing convergence on what the broad parameters of information policy should be, there
are wide differences in how a particular state will design and carry out a specific element.  A brief review of
policies pursued concerning freedom of information and public electronic access to legislative information
and documents provides examples of some of the similarities and divergences among states in these areas.

In broad terms, freedom of information acts address the right of citizens to inspect the holdings of their
government but at the same time do exempt certain government records from inspection.  Citizens also have a
limited right of exemption as well, specifically the right to correct or expunge certain parts of their personal
records through the 1974 federal Privacy Act.  States do not necessarily have parallel statutes, however, and
Delaware is one state that does not have a Privacy Act as such.  The federal Freedom of Information Act
(FOIA) was the first statute to codify the philosophical change from a citizen's "need to know" to a "right to
know" basis for access (1966, amended 1974, 1976).  Requesters must "reasonably describe" the records
sought; this requires a degree of preexisting knowledge about the subject matter and about the agency most
likely involved (Marwick, 1985).  State FOIAs do not necessarily require a reasonable description and the
federal requirement is softened by the current emphasis on more user-friendly government information locator
systems (GILS).  Additionally, a working group of the National Information Infrastructure Task Force is
studying how to apply FOIA to electronic records.  The group did not specifically address reasonable
description in their review draft but did recommend wide electronic access to databases at the direct cost of
provision (House Report No. 102-146, 1991; McConnell, 1994).  Reasonable description and a low cost
could, however, encourage over-requesting in order to get at the desired information. 

Many states have enacted freedom of information acts and some are modeled, at least in part, on the federal
act.  Delaware's FOIA, for example, uses much of the same fundamental language related to exemptions
(Elliott, Jr., & Finger, 1993).  North Carolina, which does not have a FOIA, relies instead on a Public
Records Law which requires that agencies open records at reasonable times (N.C. Gen. Stat., section 132,
1993).  To implement the Public Records Law,  Governor Hunt issued Executive Order No. 37 which opened
Administration and Transportation departmental records to the public on a nine-month trial.

Broadcast and print media operate with a dual purpose: serving the public interest and making a profit.  The
media can, therefore, not only mediate between government and citizens by revealing the actions of
government, but also gain by playing the devil's advocate role--controversy sells well.  Reporters are using
new technologies to access data held by the government in order to broaden the horizons of investigative
reporting.  So vital is electronic access that in 1994 the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
released the third comprehensive revision and update of its 1990 national how-to guide on access under state
freedom of information and public records acts.  

In Delaware, the state capitol is within a leisurely two-hour drive from any point in the state.  In Texas and
other large states, however, land distances may make the capitol virtually unreachable.  Lack of transportation
options in any state holds back even those residents who live nearby.  Moreover, few people have the time to
attend daytime legislative sessions in their capitol cities.  Local newspapers do, of course, have capitol city
beats.  Editorial judgments of what constitutes high-profile topics, however, may leave out the precise
legislation of interest to recreational fishers, general contractors, or other groups with low political profiles.  

Online legislative access has increasingly come to the rescue of those who have both access to a computer and
a measure of computer literacy.  Online capabilities also illustrate the convergence of access and cost. 
According to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, by 1994 seven states--California, Colorado,
Hawaii, Minnesota, North Carolina, Utah and Wisconsin--had full-text legislative information on the Internet
without usage fees over and above any cost for the Internet connection.  States may impose a fee for access
and private sector fees can run as high as $1,500 yearly, as was reported for Maryland.  In 1992, the National
Council of State Legislatures (NCSL) survey reported that Montana and Kansas provided legislative
information on fee-funded bulletin boards (NCSL Online access survey, 1992).

Putting state information on the Internet also makes it available outside of the state borders making virtual
citizens of anyone with the equipment, know-how and time, regardless of their physical location.  Nearly
every state has some form on online access available to the general public, but the rapid proliferation of home
pages and hypertext links makes any listing obsolete as soon as it is compiled.  At the end of 1992, the NCSL
state survey discovered 33 states that offered some form of public access to their legislative databases, and at
least 36 states that provided online access to their public institutions.  In addition to legislative and agency
information, Idaho allows free public access to departmental rules and Attorney General briefs over its
OASIS system.  Alabama and Louisiana provide some access to Boards and Commissions and in Alaska, a
"SLED" takes you through the State Libraries Electronic Doorway.  Mississippi is looking to enhance use of
their geographic information system (GIS) technology by offering online access to their digital spatial data
through the Mississippi Automated Resource Information System Project (MARIS), a project authorized by
state legislation in 1986 (  

Opening up state-held data and providing links to data not generated by the department responsible for
maintaining the state home page illustrates the potential for liability in cases where data may contain errors.
This potential has led some states to post disclaimers and State of Idaho's message provides a good example:

"Internet Home Page Disclaimer
The State of Idaho and the Department of Administration have no input whatsoever as to the content of
Internet data, with the exception in part of the State of Idaho's own home page.  The State of Idaho and the
Department of Administration do not endorse the viewpoints or vouch for the accuracy or authenticity of
electronic data or information available via the Internet.  The State of Idaho and the Department of
Administration will not deny or limit access to the electronic data or information available via the Internet
because of its allegedly controversial content or frivolous value.  Information or retrieved or utilized
electronically is considered constitutionally protected until such time as otherwise determined by a court of
competent jurisdiction."  (

Past and present legislative information for all 50 states is available online on a fee-for-service basis from
two private providers--the Mead Data LEXIS and West Publishing WESTLAW information systems.  Bill
status is available on a fee basis from two commercial firms--the Information for Public Affairs State Net and
the Commerce Clearing House (NCSL Online access survey, 1992).  The most intense online users may be
those with deep vested interests in legislation--lobbyists, journalists, attorneys, public interest groups, other
state agencies and educators (Noack, 1994).  Some of these same users also have ample financial and
technical resources.  

Online access works for those who are comfortable with computer technology and who know about the
services available:  providing online access is not necessarily the same as advertising access or providing
ongoing technical and educational support.  California does distribute a 30-page educational paper-format
guide which provides both a civics lesson on governmental workings and the how-to's of online maneuvering
(California Legislative Counsel Bureau, 1994).  Introductory help and a glossary of legislative terms are also
available online through README files.  

Online citizen access to information is being created at the community level as well.  Easy access, usability,
and involvement of a greater number of people within the community are among the goals of community
networks, or freenets.  Cleveland, Seattle, Youngstown (Ohio) and the Big Sky Telegraph Company in
Montana are just a few early examples.  Typically, the hardware and the content are provided by volunteers
within the community, making this a grassroots approach.  The central organizing structure behind
community networks is the National Public Telecomputing Network (NPTN), a nonprofit tax-exempt
corporation based in Ohio.  In May, 1995, NPTN, the Arizona Telecommunication Community (AzTeC) and
the Arizona State Public Information Network (ASPIN) has sponsored an annual affiliate meeting at Arizona
State University in Tempe.  The agenda includes the review and discussion of current problems and the
creation of new strategies for strengthening the community networking movement.  Proliferation of freenets
can provide a viable alternative to state networks, and, if interoperability can be worked out, freenets can
complement services and opportunities available over state networks and the Internet (  

A summarizing perspective of what is being identified as part of information policy may help to pull the
preceding examples together.  In 1992, NAGARA identified the following as general principles for the
management of state government information:

State government information is a valuable asset of the state.  As such, it should be managed efficiently and
in the public interest and in a way that benefits the state.

Information should be regarded and managed as a government-wide resource.

Information should be created, collected, and maintained only for well-defined purposes that are clearly
connected with agencies' missions and program delivery.

The state needs a strategic planning process and standards for the creation, interchange, and retention of
information in order to ensure that it will continue to be accessible.   

Information should be accessible unless privacy or other confidentiality considerations indicate it should be
closed or restricted.

Because modern information is so fluid and changeable, states need to make special provision for locating it
including "information locator" systems.

Special provisions need to be made for the archival preservation of electronic records and retention
requirements should be addressed in the design of information systems.

State and local governments should act as partners in the development and implementation of approaches to
information policy issues. 

In addition, the National Governors' Association in their 1994 discussions on this topic gave particular
emphasis to the states' relationship to the NII by noting:

State government policies and programs are major contributors to each state's economic development and
well-being.  The deployment of the National Information Infrastructure can generate new jobs and income
within each state, as well as serve as a major vehicle to promote economic growth for all sectors.

As historical regulators of telecommunications providers, states must review and revise their regulatory
philosophies and strategies to address new issues that are emerging as a result of the introduction of modern
technologies and the increased competition among providers of telecommunications and information services.

States must retain a significant role in telecommunications regulation to ensure access and affordability.

The efficient deployment and expansion of the National Information Infrastructure requires cooperation and
collaborations between the public and private sectors.  As the lines between different categories of
telecommunications service providers become less clear, an effective National Information Infrastructure also
will require partnerships among the various private-sector players.

Section 3:  Five Models of State Policy Making.

Lead by national organizations of state governments and state administrators, there is a growing effort within
states to focus on and create a specific body of policies that involve information-related issues.  However, just
as their provisions for FOIAs, online legislative information, and most other elements of information policy
lack a consensus, the methods used to define and construct an information policy also vary considerably.  In
the current political climate of the country, states are also receiving conflicting messages about priorities that
are relevant to information policy.  Allen (1994, p. 24) suggests that "it should be no surprise" that
governments are "under enormous and contradictory pressures" to:  

make government information available to the public and protect the public's right to privacy;

facilitate public dissemination of government information and refrain from interfering with private sector
efforts to do the same;

destroy noncurrent records for economy of government operations (when no longer needed...) and preserve
every  piece of paper or E-mail message with information of value to do anyone;

expand the availability of free information and downsize government personnel and budgets.

In this context, it is because of their differences in approach that the activities of Florida, Kentucky, New
York, Minnesota, and Wisconsin shed useful light on alternative frameworks for policy discussion and

Florida provides a strong legislative model.  The state contributes both a philosophical approach and an
ongoing commitment to an open records environment.  Florida also fills a leadership role and provides a good
conceptual framework for the core issues in information policy through numerous comprehensive
publications.  In the early 1980s, Florida established both a standing legislative committee to focus on the
impacts of information technology ("Electronic records," 1994).  

Kentucky uses a commissions form of policy formulation.  In 1991, the Kentucky Information Systems
Commission (KISC) sponsored a two-day Current Issues forum which drew both old and new stakeholders
into the policy debates.  Panel discussions with state and national leaders and the subsequent published
Proceedings provide a primer on access and cost issues, as well as on implementation challenges.  Originally
set up as an advisory body, KISC quickly gained legislative empowerment to develop administrative
regulations, procedures and legislation to establish and coordinate statewide strategic planning regarding
access to electronic records, privacy and information transfer between governmental levels.  KISC also
sponsored Kentucky's 1991 Open Records law.  KISC has since been renamed as the Kentucky Information
Resource Management Commission.

Minnesota uses a statewide administrative management approach set out by the Government Data Practices
Act and the Information Policy Office (IPO).  The IPO, housed within the Department of Administration, is
legislatively mandated to oversee the purchase and use of the state information architecture, including the
training of state agency personnel.  An exhaustive set of principles and guidelines, the Information Resource
Management Series, covering a spectrum of issues from the purchase of computers and technical standards to
data retention and security is in process.

Decentralized records and agency partnership distinguishes New York's information policy.  The New York
State Archives and Records Administration (SARA) surveyed agency archive programs (Building
Partnerships, 1994).  This work built on an earlier pilot project inventory of automated databases and selected
manual records which produced a state Sourcebook and provides a functional basis for policy decisions (NYS
Sourcebook, 1990).

Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson put together an extensive private-public partnership model in March
1993 by creating a Blue Ribbon Telecommunications Infrastructure Task Force charged with recommending
policy changes.  Chaired by a banker, and focusing more on the applications of technology, task force
members represented various layers of government, as well as business, industry, and nonprofit
organizations.  Their recommendations were included in Wisconsin Act 496, signed July 5, 1994 (Report,
Volume One, 1993; Report, Volume Two, 1994).  This act allows telecommunications rate structure changes
in return for a five-year $700 million industry infrastructure investment, and also establishes and funds a
nonprofit Wisconsin Advanced Telecommunications Foundation.  The Foundation, in turn, will fund
consumer education and advanced application projects, with priority given to applications from local
governments, educational institutions, libraries, and low-revenue school districts.

Legislative Model:  Florida

Florida law charges the Joint Committee on Information Technology Resources with recommending
necessary legislation, reviewing agency use and management of information technology, and assisting other
committees on the use and impact of information technology resources ("Electronic records," 1994).  Created
in 1983, Florida's legislative committee has developed into the focal point for policy discussions as well as
providing continuing oversight on the use of technology in the public sector.  The committee is composed of
three representatives and three senators, and the chair rotates between the House and the Senate each year. 
Although the legislative session itself runs for only two months each year, during the remaining ten months
the committee support staff engages in interim research projects and report writing.  This model provides for
a comprehensive statewide view, good continuity and, of course, is close to the lawmaking process.  As a
consequence, Florida's legislative committee has worked in a large number of areas which other states have
used to define the range of state information policy issues.  

In 1909 Florida was one of the first states to pass a public records law, codified in Chapter 119, Florida
Statues.  This law set the state philosophy of considering all records open:  "all state, county, and municipal
records shall at all times be open for a personal inspection of any citizen of Florida" (Information Policy,
1989, p. 28).  This open records commitment is so strong that in the 1990s, when a question was raised
concerning legislative records, the state constitution was easily amended to ensure that open access included
all three branches of government.13  Underlying the open records commitment is the principle that tax dollars
paid by citizens of Florida are used to create the records of government and that citizens, in a sense, own
public records.  Public records are not a commodity, however, but rather a public trust and a central part of
democracy (personal communication February 9, 1995).  Indeed, the right of access and inspection was
extended to "any person" by a 1975 amendment to the Public Records Law (Critical Analysis, 1992, p. 13). 
This is a significant distinction as it defines citizenship without reference to residency.

The Public Records Law, however, was conceived in a paper format environment.   Although in general, the
committee feels that automated records are an easier and cheaper form of access than paper, the status of
geographic information systems (GIS) continues to be debated.  Florida participated in a 1994 national
symposium held in Tempe, Arizona, which focused on the legal issues surrounding GIS, as part of their own
study on these issues.  Although GIS databases now constitute a very small percentage of Florida's public
records, they are expected to increase, and remain expensive to set up and to maintain.  In the past few years,
the idea of treating GIS databases differently from other public records has been raised.  As it stands now, for
example, a financial or accounting program developed by a state agency cannot be copyrighted nor can any
charge for access to the manipulated data recoup the cost of developing the program (Reporters Committee,
1994).  For GIS, Public Records Law amendments proposed but not enacted would allow fees based on the
intent of use, and the recovery of development costs, including labor and overhead.  In the meantime, the
State Department's Bureau of Archives and Records Management continues to assist the legislative
committee by working with other government agencies to develop workable policy guidelines (Critical
Analysis, 1992).

The Secretary of State and the Archives Manager are also assisting in the matter of E-mail preservation. 
Although Florida law recognizes E-mail as a public record, there are technical burdens associated with its
preservation.  Agency E-mail developed ad hoc and as a consequence there are about a dozen different
systems now in use statewide.  In addition to the "how" of preservation, the "who" of preservation also needs
clarification when there is simultaneous electronic possession.  The issue of the use of the Internet for E-mail
is still unresolved as well.  

Although the legislative committee takes the leading role, the Department of State, the rulemaking body for
all state agencies, is a natural partner.  This is a true working relationship.  In 1991, in order to examine
issues in the transition to non-paper record systems, staff members from the legislative committee worked
with the Archives, administratively housed under the State Department, on a survey of state agency records
automation; results were compared with similar surveys done in 1984 and 1988 for analysis of trends
(Information Technology, 1991).  The media also helps by raising public awareness of issues; public
awareness in turn stimulates lawmakers.  The governor tends to rely upon the committee's leadership, and this
reflects Florida's history of a strong legislature (personal communication, April 21, 1995).  The current
committee staff director has worked with the legislative committee since its inception twelve years ago, and
provides internal continuity and stability.  Additionally, Stolting has addressed information policy forums
nationwide, and assisted with the authorship of many of the committees thirty-some reports, thus furnishing
strong staff leadership as well.   

Commission Model:  Kentucky

The Kentucky Commission uses leadership and policy forums to promote the discussion of information
policy issues.  James A. Nelson, Chair of the KISC Special Committee on Information Policy in the early
1990s, has continued to maintain a presence in information policy discussions nationwide as head of the state
library and archives agency.  The Commission, which started out with an information resources management
outlook and then developed a more comprehensive information policy focus, is again reorganizing.  The
original enabling statute was amended by House Bill 567 in 1994 refocusing KISC toward its original
information resource management focus, but now specifically including the GIS resources of the state (KRS
61).  To help maintain a broad policy orientation after the  name change, bylaws redevelopment and the
dissolution of the policy committee, Nelson re-established the Information Policy Committee in September
1994 (Commission Minutes, September 21, 1994).  

Leadership protects the integrity and continuity of the commission model and strengthens commission
recommendations.  The Kentucky Information Systems Commission itself is still headed by Stephen N.
Dooley, who has been at the helm since the Current Issues forum in 1991.  The Kentucky Information
Systems Commission Chair is chosen from and by the twenty-one Commissioners.  The state librarian has a
seat; Nelson has been the State Librarian for a number of years.  In addition to the fourteen specified state
and local officials, membership includes one representative from the public universities, the executive director
of the Kentucky Authority for Educational Television, a member of the Kentucky Press Association, and five
citizen members, two of whom must have information resource experience.  The governor chooses five of the
members, including the press representative, from lists prepared by the appropriate professional groups.  This
stake in the Commission's makeup also serves to maintain a close connection between the Executive branch
and the information resource policy process.  

The reformulated Commission is still an independent agency of state government, reporting at least
semiannually directly to the governor and to the Legislative Research Commission (LRC).  The LRC was
created in 1948 to provide a reference library, committee staff support, bill drafting, and oversight of the state
budget and educational reform for the state legislature.  Members of the legislative leadership also sit on the
LRC (KRS 61).  The Commission reports thus provide legislators with access to the progression of policy

The policy planning efforts of the Kentucky Information Systems Commission were one of the state models
showcased at the 1988 forum, Gateways to Comprehensive State Information Policy:  A Conference for State
Government Stakeholders.  Sponsored primarily by the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies, this first
national forum to focus on state information policy development was held in Kentucky; forum Proceedings
were edited by James Nelson.  This fledgling forum consciously sought to identify and bring together the
stakeholders, and to gently force the exchange of viewpoints by assigning participants to specific tables,
where they stayed for the entire three days of the conference.  Librarians sat with budget officials and
telecommunications representatives and legislators mixed with educators, publishers with librarians,
archivists and records managers, and so on.  An archivist from the Virgin Islands sat with someone from the
Information Industry Association in Washington, D.C., and an Administrative Department representative
from Juneau, Alaska, sat with someone from the Maine Office of Information Services.  

The Gateways forum was held in the days before the Kentucky Commission received full empowerment.  The
Commission reported on its involvement with three projects:  a Department of Information Systems study of
online reporting of local government information going to the state capitol in Frankfort; other Information
Systems work on the development of a data dictionary to identify each agency's machine readable records; a
Department for Libraries and Archives pilot project to determine the feasibility of a statewide information
locator.  The Commission stressed that government information is a valuable resource whose real value lies in
its application, adding that such information is held in trust for the public.  Information resources
management practices should therefore benefit the entire state and the public at large (Gateways Proceedings,

In 1991, the Commission hosted a conference, Current Issues in Government Information Policy.  Nelson
chaired the planning committee for the two-day conference which was held in Louisville.  Participants
representing various stakeholder groups were assigned conference seating to facilitate interactions across
agency and professional lines.  A summary of the recommendations made by participants on specific access,
cost and implementation questions are included in the published Proceedings.  For example, participants, in
general, did not feel that government should profit or recover development and operation costs from
dissemination of information, despite the increasing costs of new technologies.  They agreed that any
fee-based services should cover direct access costs, at most, and did not see the use of access fees as a
revenue generating strategy of any sort.  In response to the specific question:  "Should government be in the
business of developing information products and services as sources of revenue," the general consensus was
that it must specifically be in the public's interest to do so, with a minority opinion that it would be more
sensible for private sector companies to do this through a licensing agreement (Current issues, 1991, p. 97).  

Whether or not other states would agree with these participants is not as important as the undeniable
credentials the Kentucky Commission enjoys by participating in the seminal conferences and also in pushing
the policy debates forward among diverse groups of stakeholders.  It remains to be seen if the re-established
Information Policy Committee can help the Commission to take a comprehensive policy approach.  An
important internal task of an independent commission is that of balance:  their profile must be high enough to
be perceived as a real force in policymaking, but not so high as to overshadow the authority of the Chief
Executive or the legislature.  

Administrative Management Model:  Minnesota

The state Information Policy Office (IPO), housed within the Department of Administration, is responsible
for information resource management in the state of Minnesota.  The IPO is directed by a Policy Council
which meets every other month.  The Council's initial focus is on information architecture and data sharing
among agencies, and a cost-benefit framework is being used to encourage prudent technology purchases
(personal communication, June 8, 1994).  In July 1994, the IPO presented the first in a planned series of
standards-defining documents to the Legislative Auditor.  The IPO sees information resources as valuable
assets and envisions an information resource environment, or community, with linked architecture and free
cross-availability of records (Developing Information Resources, 1994).  The Council is moving toward a
ten-year strategy for information resource management.

Although the IPO is placing primary emphasis on the internal state government environment of state agencies
and departments, the Office has also developed a state network, MNet, which launched a WWW home page. 
In addition, the IPO is sponsoring  experimental applications including MN-GOVT, GIAC and North Star. 
MN-GOVT, an Internet E-mail distribution list, disseminates various state government announcements,
including the full text of relevant legislative proposals and updates on the ongoing efforts to increase public
electronic access to data (  The Government Information Access Council (GIAC),
another dissemination program, is available via gopher, and hot items are posted on several Internet
discussion lists including Americans Communicating Electronically (ACE).  GIAC recently put out an
Internet call for any research findings on state government use of copyright and intellectual property rights,
royalties and use constraints, and alternatives to marginal costing of government services (
Minnesota Government Information Access folder).  The demonstration phase for North Star is scheduled to
run until June 30, 1996.  This project provides government information on the World Wide Web from a
dozens of state agencies (

The Minnesota Department of Administration is fostering a strong outreach model through their network
services, and through the legislative access service, Access Minnesota.  Federal matching grants from the
National Telecommunications and Information Administration helped to set up the IPO networks.  Continued
operation will require a large influx of state funds and an ongoing commitment of operating and expansion
funds will be needed for a wider scale of distribution.  As happens with networks in other states, initially only
the computer literate are served electronically.  To remedy this, Minnesota is also planning to place
user-friendly kiosks containing the same information services in areas convenient to foot-traffic.  

The IPO and the Department of Administration leadership will need to share a clear vision and rationale in
order to support funding requests; the state spent over half a million dollars in the 1995 fiscal year on Access
Minnesota alone (Electronic Access Task Force handout, March 16, 1994).  To the state's credit, their policy
discussions and implementation questions are being debated openly via timely electronic distribution
coordinated by Steven Clift of the IPO.  Among other releases, all meetings and meeting reports of the
various Working Groups of the Information Policy Council are electronically posted in a timely fashion, even
though meeting reports are billed as being very fluid draft working documents.  The state's electronic
openness reflects a leadership that is unafraid of realtime exposure.  Technology is expensive but the network
applications developing in Minnesota are right in line with the NII view of citizen participation, and the use of
kiosks will meet the National Performance Review government efficiency goals.

Minnesota does not have a freedom of information act; in general the state follows federal standards for
release of documents (personal communication June 8, 1994).  The Minnesota Government Data Practices
Act, amended in June 1993, controls government information.  The unofficial copy of this revised Act is 91
pages long and covers all types of data, their lifespan from creation to preservation, and cross references to
other sections of the Minnesota statutes where data are discussed.  In general, access to public "data," rather
than "records," is described.  "Records" addressed under Section 13.40 refer to library and historical data.  In
general, all government data is public unless specifically classified as nonpublic, or private.  Public data is
free for inspection; copies many carry a fee and may not be reproduced for sale to a third party.  The
distinctions and rationale for all nonpublic confidential data, which is exempted from release, are clearly
provided.  Responsibility for access resides with the responsible authority in every state agency (Minn. Sta.
Ann. section 13.03, 1993).

Decentralized Recordkeeping Model:  New York

The New York state decentralization model addresses the concern that the concept of access is hollow if
citizens or agencies do not know what data, records or information exist, where they are and how they are
stored.  This is particularly true for whatever is covered by the freedom of information reasonable description
requirement.  In the late 1980s, it became apparent that the increase in the use of automated records statewide
also increased the complexity of state government.  Since centralized control did not suit either the
administrative structure or the political climate in state government, a voluntary association formed in 1987
to investigate how to extend the advantages of central control to a decentralized system.  Association
members worked with health and mental health programs staff to find paper and electronic records suitable
for inclusion in a consolidated directory.  A grant from the National Historical Publications and Records
Commission, administered through the New York State Archives and Records Administration (SARA),
funded a pilot project to create a shareable repository of information about information, a metadata
Sourcebook.  The Sourcebook is available in paper format ($6.00) and on a computerized database (NYS
Sourcebook, 1990).  

New York has a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) and a Personal Privacy Protection Law (PPPL) which
provide general provisions covering access to information.  Agencies can develop their own specific policies
for implementation of the FOIL and PPPL provisions.  The Sourcebook lists the contact person, a brief
notation of any legal restrictions and fee structures with the detailed description of each individual holding. 
The entire life history of each holding, from purpose and collection methods to updating and retention
practices, is told.  Any limitations are acknowledged, and an agency profile of the current functions and
organizational history is also included.  

In March of 1992, the follow up evaluation of the pilot project suggested development of an Information
Locator System (ILS) as the next step in Sourcebook expansion.14  The New York State Library/New York
State Archives computer-based systems are one possible model for the ILS, particularly as the user interface
is specifically designed for easy search and retrieval.  Agencies would retain control over their own data
holdings and would be responsible for providing complete descriptive information to the ILS.  A survey of
agency managers was generally positive about information sharing.  Managers cited the value of quick
identification of expert contact people in other agencies and the avoidance of duplicate data collection.  

The estimated agency cost for describing their resources is $22.50 per source in staff time, with updating
averaging $5 per source; central administrative costs is estimated at $175,000 per year.  The 15-month pilot
project cost $43,464 for one full-time and four part-time staff people; production of the Sourcebook cost an
additional $3,000 for the initial run of 600 copies, and $4,300 to produce the electronic form (Final
Evaluation Report, 1992; Next Steps, 1992).

In 1993, SARA conducted a six-month companion survey of agency electronic records management; funding
was provided by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.  The survey
compiled the policies, current practices and E-mail use in sixty state agencies.  As it turned out, fewer than
half the surveyed agencies had any formal information resource management policy and only a handful of
agency had retention practices which actually followed the SARA guidelines.  Only about one in four
agencies had formal policies on public access to computerized records, and only two agencies had written
policies governing the sale of information products.15  Although a majority of agencies were using E-mail,
only a handful were able to quantify the volume of daily E-mail traffic.  In addition, there was little consensus
about the quality of E-mail; some saw all E-mail message as unofficial documents, while other agencies saw
all E-mail as private messages (Building Partnerships, 1994). 

Decentralized approaches do need a coordinating force and a strong link to the central state administration: 
for SARA to provide such a stable source of ongoing leadership will call for the organization to develop a
broader focus.  Moreover, the data cataloging process itself may not be well understood by those who control
the state budget; up to now this has not been a major concern as the National Historical Publications and
Records Commission has supplied major funding.  Archivists are probably not well integrated into the
legislative process; SARA must first establish a close working relationship with the legislature and then
educate lawmakers on the significance of the Building Partnerships work.

On the other hand, decentralization may be a good fit for New York state in light of the schizophrenia that
comes from having a high profile world capitol, New York City, and a lower profile state capitol, Albany. 
Bringing decisions closer to home may help construct localized identities that are not concurrent with an
international city such as New York.

Public-Private Partnership Model:  Wisconsin

In comparison with the four state models above, Wisconsin looks at state information policy through the lens
of telecommunications deregulation.  This focus may be an outgrowth of Wisconsin's Governor Tommy
Thompson's earlier work as the leader of the Great Lakes Telecommunications Initiatives in the early 1990s. 
The Council of Great Lakes Governors looked specifically at how to use telecommunications to stimulate
regional economic development, a useful approach for the Rust Belt states which participated.  Governor
Thompson then took a similar economic development approach to Wisconsin's information policy.  

Wisconsin started with 45 Task Force members, then added 93 participants and 16 consultants/staff.  The
Task Force organized four local public hearings and one statewide public meeting using a
video-teleconference format.  These dialogues resulted in Volumes One and Two of Convergence,
Competition, Cooperation, a 40-page piece of legislation (1993 Wisconsin Act 496), a Telecommunications
Foundation and a Telecommunications Privacy Council.  In 1993, a classic economic development group of
state leaders from government and private industry answered Governor Tommy Thompson challenge to
create a state telecommunications infrastructure vision (Executive Order No. 178, 1993).  Volume One
(1993) lists six strategies and fourteen recommendations for action regarding access, cost,
competition/regulation and deployment; Volume Two (1994) includes industry position papers and user
needs assessments.

Wisconsin's high-profile task force proposed action now:  "Debating at the edge of the volcano about the
meaning of each bubble that comes to the surface will only leave us unprepared for the engulfing flow of
technical and industry changes to come, and our education, health care, and other priorities stranded on
islands of obsolescence." (Volume One, 1993, Introduction).  Drawing all of state government into the
discussion, the task force urged the Department of Revenue to suggest changes to tax policies to stimulate
private-sector deployment of an enhanced telecommunications infrastructure, and recommended that the
Department of Administration to coordinate the sharing of facilities and the consolidation of services using
technologies such as the Electronic Data Interchange (EDI).  To gather needed background for legislation
which would facilitate infrastructure deployment, the Department of Administration combed through
Attorney General opinions and court rulings to find all constraints placed on the use of telecommunications
(Volume One, 1993). 

The subsequent Act provides for customers as well as for providers.  Customer protections include a
Universal Service Fund, administered by the Public Service Commission (PSC) with the advice of a
newly-created Universal Service Fund Council.  The Fund, which represents a portion of each providers'
intrastate service gross revenues, subsidizes the cost of essential services to low-income and disabled
customers.  Essential services include:  a single-party touch-tone capable statewide line which can carry
facsimile and data transmissions, and with emergency service number capability.

Another customer protection is the Telecommunications Privacy Council created to advise the PSC on
matters concerning the public interest.  In addition, the Act calls for:  privacy to be addressed before any new
telecommunications service is introduced in the state; the Department of Administration to establish
standards regarding the surveillance of agency employees; penalties to be increased for stalking and
harassment facilitated by the use of electronic records access; the records of pharmacists to be subject to the
state health care records law.  The Act prohibits:  the redisclosure for commercial gain of unlisted telephone
numbers obtained via call ID; the fraudulent manipulation of computer data; and deceptive advertising of

The endowment fund of the nonprofit Wisconsin Advanced Telecommunications Foundation received a
one-time state appropriation of $500,000 in fiscal year 1994-1995.  This appropriation, however, must be
matched by June 30, 1995, with $1 million from telecommunications providers.  By January 1, 2002, the
Foundation must raise at least $10 million in direct or in-kind contributions from other than
telecommunications providers (New law Information Memorandum 94-27, 1994). 


This report describes small portions of the activity in five states and illustrates the patterns and institutional
structures that address state information policy.  Neither policy nor implementation happens in a vacuum, so
it is important for officials to recognize the underlying influences, know the stakeholders and their frames of
reference, and take note of citizen expectations.  When policy makers do this (and do it well), the advice of
the Wisconsin task force to act now makes sense because it may indeed be possible to get so wrapped up in
conceptual debates that the larger picture gets lost.  

The state models in this report demonstrate that the exact mechanisms chosen to explore information policy
may depend upon the strengths of the various stakeholder groups, the policy agenda and charisma of political
leaders, and the political culture of the state.  State information policy formulation is probably less dependent
upon the institutional setting used.  For any state, policy discussions ultimately aim at understanding of the
role of information in a democracy and setting cost  structures which balance benefits for both citizen users of
information and for government creators and providers of that information.  Since individual citizens have a
relatively smaller voice in policy, and advocacy groups do not represent the totality of grassroots interests,
creating and maintaining clear and living images of information policy in the minds of citizens and policy
makers may help realize some measure of both equity and progress.

Outreach, coordination, and leadership figure in policy formulation.  State officials who struggle daily with
the issues can help legislators to see information policy as more than just a technology problem; the dialogue
should then be extended to the public.  This calls for leadership that has both political power and political
courage.  Additionally, there is a need for coordination among government bodies and government levels. 
Cities and counties are also active in creating electronic records including databases used for geographic
information systems.  Eventually, too, the small but active community networks and freenets around the
nation may be assimilated into the Internet as technological improvements in interoperability create software
or hardware links.  Economic development using the tool of Internet commerce calls for the development of
new banking models.  Once government leaders, government workers and average citizens have access and
become comfortable with Internet travel these transitions will be simpler.  


1Delaware's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), however, was originally passed in 1955 and so does
predate the federal statute.

2A discussion of redaction, or the process of editing a mixed record in order to release only the data requested
or only that portion of the record determined to be "public" is contained in the Delaware State Archives
White Paper, "Freedom of Information in Delaware" (October 1995).

3One benefit of the national information infrastructure is the linking of hospitals, doctors' offices and
research institutions to find treatment options (Gonzalez, 1995).  To do this, confidential information about a
patient may be transmitted without the explicit consent of the individual.  At the same time, the U.S.
Congressional Office of Technology Assessment 1993 report, "Protecting privacy in computerized medical
information," stated that the threat of lawsuits and third-party documentation requirements motivate the
collection and retention of more information than might otherwise be done.  One outcome is S. 1360., the
"Medical Records Confidentiality Act of 1995," currently in the U.S. Senate Labor and Human Resources
Committee.  An Internet debate is taking place on the discussion list on possible
consequences of this bill.

4According to Richard Civille, Director of the Center for Civic Networking, economic development issues
frequently propel states into broader information policy discussion.  Civille has worked with the Center for
Policy Alternatives on a series of regional forums which relate federal actions to state and local
telecommunications policies.  In the Pacific Northwest, for example, the Center has presented their arguments
in terms of sustainable local economic development in order to motivate states to take a role in information
infrastructure development (personal communication, February 9, 1995).  

5Editors of Financial World magazine surveyed professors of public policy via an electronic bulletin board in
the ProfNet system regarding the potential benefits of an automated statehouse.  The financial returns from
the use of technology were frequently cited, as was the advice to invest in technology in order to avoid being
at a competitive disadvantage.  (Barrett & Greene, 1994).

6In 1995 two states have enacted laws regulating the use of digital signatures:  Utah's "Digital Signatures
Act," S.B. 82, and, more recently, California's "Digital Signatures," AB 1577.  These bills seek to legalize
digital signatures and recommend verifying signatures through use of public key-private key infrastructure
with a public key repository.

7The state view on regulation was developed in the 1994 "Telecommunications" concept paper written by the
National Governors' Association and in the National Conference of State Legislatures "Communications"
policy paper.

8The aging of the 1934 "Communications Act" had left national communication policy largely to the courts. 
Several plaintiffs have already entered suits on provisions in the new law to clarify constitutionally protected
speech on the Internet (CuD, "Computer Underground Digest"

9The University of Delaware campus participated through the World Wide Web browser or through E-mail
to Fedworld ("Clinton administration," 1995).

10The Office of Management and Budget controls the information collection budget and houses the federal
information policy office (Morin, 1994).  In 1995 changes were proposed to Appendix III of Circular A-130
in order to address the security of information sent over the Internet.  Rather than technical controls,
management controls such as individual responsibility, accountability, awareness and training were
recommended (TAURUSgram (R) Alert Bulletin, April 3, 1995,

11The customer service vision of one-stop shopping for government services was outlined in a Kennedy
School of Government "Summary Report" jointly funded by twelve federal agencies and eight
telecommunications businesses.  The Report noted that for data sharing and coordinated services delivery,
agencies must recognize and overcome any turf-protection tendencies.  Additionally, application of the
private sector model onto government transactions is limited by the less than wholly voluntary nature of
certain public sector interactions such as paying taxes.  The Report concludes that educational outreach is
needed to inform citizens about what is available and on how to use the technology.

12The NARA regional office nearest to Delaware is in Philadelphia.  In addition to the two central and the
fifteen regional archival repository sites which house materials from all three branches of federal government,
NARA also operates the ten presidential libraries, six affiliated archives and fourteen federal records centers
nationwide.  NARA has a twofold mission both as a public service gateway between citizens and the records
of their government and as a central records management agency ("User study," 1994).

13Exemptions are not left to administrative discretion, and are not created by the court, although the Supreme
Court can rule on objections.  The legislature must specifically exempt records via a single-subject bill and
there are currently approximately 600 exemptions in place.  The committee reviewed all these exemptions
over the past ten years; most were reenacted, some were modified.  Any new exemptions will be reviewed five
years after they go into effect (Forum remarks, "An Information Policy for Delaware:  Issues in Public
Service, Access, Cost, and Privacy," Dover, DE, April 21, 1995).

14A posting on the ACE (Americans Communicating Electronically) Internet discussion list reports that the
New York State Library had set up a mailing list for government documents and has developed a prototype
government ILS on the Internet at  This notice originally appeared in the January 23, 1995,
"Legislative Gazette" newspaper published by journalism and political science students at SUNY (the State
University of New York) at Albany.

15William Behnk (Legislative Council, CA) states that commercial services have been reselling repackaged
data originally available free from the New York Research Service (personal communication, May 8, 1995).  


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The University of Delaware is committed to assuring equal opportunity to all persons and does not
discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, gender, age, religion, national origin, veteran or handicapped
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