The legal profession may be known for many things, but innovative practices isn’t always one that comes to mine – especially within government circles.
So it may come as a surprise that among a newly-published list of 50 leading contributors to the legal community, which included executives from Yale Law School as well as Apple and Google, it also included Mary Alice Baish, the superintendent of documents for U. S. Government Printing Office.
Baish was recognized by Fastcase, a legal research service, in its annual list of “Fastcase 50” winners. The award recognizes “the smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries, and leaders in the law.”
“This year’s awardees are a diverse group of judges, lawyers, teachers, general counsel, law librarians, hackers (in the good sense, of course), and disruptors,” said Ed Walters, CEO of Fastcase.
Baish isn’t exactly a stranger to the legal world or to innovation.
Prior to her appointment as assistant public printer and superintendent of documents at GPO in January of last year, Baish had earned a reputation as a top lobbyist for the American Association of Law Libraries, where she pushed for open information policies in the federal government. Among other projects, she worked with the White House and Office of Management and Budget in implementing President Obama’s Open Government Directive and with auditing agency Open Government Plans.
She is also a founding member of OpenTheGovernment.org, an organization created to promote democracy and end Government secrecy – something she now has a direct hand in executing in her role at GPO, where she is responsible for overseeing the distribution of federal government information to 1,200 federal depository libraries nationwide in both digital and print formats.
“For many years before coming to U.S. Government Printing Office, I was committed to the unique role of GPO in providing free online access to authentic electronic Government information and ensuring its permanent public access and preservation via GPO’s Federal Digital System,” Baish told Breaking Gov.
While Baish stepped down from the board of OpenTheGovernment.org before assuming her position at GPO, she said it’s mission “to promote government transparency aligns perfectly with the mission of GPO, ‘Keeping America Informed.’ “
Baish, in usual fashion, preferred to give credit to her colleagues at GPO. Asked what innovative work GPO is doing that the her fellow honorees ought to know about, she cited the “valuable new content” GPO continues to add to the Federal Digital System, which GPO manages, including audio, video and apps.
“I am especially proud of our pilot project with the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts to provide easy access to authentic Federal court opinions, as well as our partnerships with other federal agencies,” she said.
“Our collaboration with the Library of Congress to digitize and provide access to the Bound Congressional Record going back to 1873 is another example of GPO’s innovation,” she said.