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Govdocs Worth Reading. No, Really.

By Scott West

Before you know it, we will be up to our eyeballs in the presidential election. The Government Publishing Office dependably produces new and interesting material every day, and Roesch Library has an amazing collection of these items, known to fans as “govdocs.” Here is a little taste of items recently received:

Airspace Integration of New Aircraft 

  • Hearing before the Subcommittee on Aviation of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, House of Representatives (Sept. 6, 2018)
  • Y 4.T 68/2:115-53

This hearing focused on the opportunities and challenges confronting the introduction of drones and the inevitable flying cars to American airspace. Two main questions arose. First, how will these aircraft physically fit and operate within the three-dimensional airspace and be kept at safe distances from buildings, people on the ground and other aircraft in urban and other environments? Second, how will control systems for these new aircraft integrate into established procedures? Available in Print.

Cleaning Up the Oceans: How to Reduce the Impact of Man-Made Trash on the Environment, Wildlife, and Human Health

  • Hearing before the Committee on Environment and Public Works, Senate (Sept. 26, 2018)
  • Y 4.P 96/10:S.HRG.115-385

Plastic in the oceans has been a major topic in new media over the past few years. Not surprisingly, the U.S. government is being pressured to become involved. The challenge for the United States is that 80% of the pollution is estimated to originate in Asia. The committee heard from representatives from the National Geographic Society, the American Chemistry Council, Coca-Cola, and the Sea Education Association. Available in Print and Online.

Cyber Operations Today: Preparing for 21st Century Challenges in an Information-Enabled Society

  • Hearing before the Committee on Armed Services, House of Representatives (April 11, 2018)
  • Y 4.AR 5/2 A:2017-2018/95

Mac Thornberry, chairman of the committee, described the intent of this hearing: “Threats to national security in cyberspace come from adversaries stealing information. Sometimes it comes from adversaries working to manipulate our decisions and American public opinion. Part of it is the potential to disrupt our economy and unleash havoc with our financial system, or electric grid, or public health and sanitation. And I have not even begun to discuss the consequences for the effects of our military’s ability to operate. We still have not answered the fundamental question of what we expect the federal government to do to defend our citizens, our businesses, our infrastructure, and our society in cyber. Meanwhile, the capabilities of our adversaries and their willingness to use them is growing far faster than our response. The Director of National Intelligence [DNI] recently assessed, quote, ‘The potential for surprise in the cyber realm will increase in the next year and beyond as billions more digital devices are connected — with relatively little built-in security — and both nation-states and malign actors become more emboldened and better equipped in the use of increasingly widespread cyber toolkits.’” Among the cybersecurity experts to testify was retired Gen. Keith Alexander. Available in Print and Online.

Examining the Rise of American Earnings and Living Standards 

  • Hearing before the Joint Economic Committee, Congress (Sept. 26, 2018)
  • Y 4.EC 7:S.HRG.115-416

The opening statements from Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen of Minnesota and Democratic Sen. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico demonstrated the contrary views of tax legislation enacted in 2017. The hearing included testimony from representatives of the Council of Economic Advisers, the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, the Heritage Foundation, and the Washington Center for Equitable Growth. Available in Print and Online.

Facebook, Google and Twitter: Examining the Content Filtering Practices of Social Media Giants 

  • Hearing before the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives (July 17, 2018)
  • Y 4.J 89/1:115-64

Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia posed the central challenge confronting this committee when it reviews the policies of the internet powers: “Are these companies using their market power to push the envelope on filtering decisions to favor the content the companies prefer? Congress must evaluate our laws to ensure that they are achieving their intended purpose. The online environment is becoming more polarized, not less. And there are concerns that discourse is being squelched, not facilitated.” Witnesses, who initially declined to attend, came from Facebook, Twitter and YouTube — though not Google. Available in Print and Online.

Healthy Oceans and Healthy Economies: The State of Our Oceans in the 21st Century 

  • Hearing before the Subcommittee on Water, Oceans and Wildlife of the Committee on Natural Resources, House of Representatives
  • Y 4.R 31/3:116-2

This hearing — the second in this list discussing the current state of the oceans — focused on the economic importance of healthy oceans to the communities whose residents depend on them for their livelihoods. The extraordinary witness list includes representatives from the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences (Maine), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association, Healthy Community Services of New Orleans, the Heritage Foundation, the chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation, and a professor of climatology from the University of Delaware. Available in Print and Online.

Hidden in Plain Sight: Understanding Federal Efforts to Stop Human Trafficking 

  • Hearing before the Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security of the Committee on Homeland Security, House of Representatives (Sept. 26, 2018)
  • Y 4.H 75:115-76

Rep. Martha McSally of Arizona, chairwoman of the subcommittee, explained that she called this hearing “to shine a light on the heinous crime of human trafficking and highlight the work being done by our federal agencies who partner with state, local and tribal governments and law enforcement agencies to eradicate human trafficking from our streets, our local businesses and our neighborhoods.” Witnesses include representatives from the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Partnership and Engagement and Homeland Security Investigations, as well as the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice and the chief justice of the Tlingit and Haida tribes of Alaska. Available in Print and Online.

Millennials and the Gig Economy

  • Hearing before the Committee on Small Business, House of Representatives (June 6, 2018)
  • Y 4.SM 1:115-074

This was a hot topic a few years ago but seemed to have lost some visibility recently. Chairman Steve Chabot of Ohio explained that this hearing is intended to “discuss an example of an economic market that is not only shaped by technology but defined by it, the so-called gig economy. Today’s hearing will allow us to explore the intricacies of a gig economy while diving deeper into the questions of who is participating in it, what does working in it look like, and how is its growth affecting small businesses.” Witnesses came from the SCORE Association, a nonprofit organization providing free business mentoring; Ruff House Dog Training; the Sweet Core, a coworking space; and the Millennial Action Project. Available in Print and Online.

A Truly Inclusive Society: Encouraging the Ability in Disability

  • Briefing of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (September 24, 2018)
  • Y 4.SE 2: SO 1

Allison Hollabaugh Parker, general counsel at the Helsinki Commission, explained, “This briefing will explore best practices developed federally and locally in the United States to empower and integrate individuals with intellectual disabilities. We’ll also discuss changes that will enable individuals with disabilities to reach their full potential.” In particular, the briefing focused on those individuals with Down syndrome. Panelists included the president of the National Down Syndrome Society; the director of the TIES Center, a national technical assistance center on inclusive practices and policies; and the co-founders of John’s Crazy Socks, a business started by a father and his son with Down syndrome.  Available Print and Online.

Winning a Future War: War Gaming and Victory in the Pacific War

  • Norman Friedman, Naval History and Heritage Command, Department of the Navy
  • D 221.2:W 19/2

Norman Friedman proposes that war gaming — the use of remarkably simple strategy board games — at the Naval War College was pivotal in the ability of the U.S. Navy to win the war in the Pacific during World War II. Specifically, Friedman says, “to win the Pacific War, the U.S. Navy had to transform itself technically, tactically, and strategically. It had to create a fleet capable of the unprecedented feat of fighting and winning far from home, without existing bases, in the face of an enemy with numerous bases fighting in his own waters. Much of the credit for the transformation should go to the war gaming conducted at the U.S. Naval War College. Conversely, as we face further demands for transformation, the inter-war experience at the War College offers valuable guidance as to what works, and why, and how.” Not surprisingly, these games were on a larger scale than tabletop games, but not much. War gaming is still a fundamental part of the War College’s curriculum. Available in Print and Online.

— Scott N. West is an information resources specialist in the University Libraries.

Postscript: In May 2019, Roesch Library celebrated 50 years in the Federal Depository Library Program.

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