ARCHIVED: Before the Joint Committee on Printing on "Federal Government Printing and Public Access to Government Documents"

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Good morning. I am Julia F. Wallace, Head of the Government Publications Library at the University of Minnesota. We are the regional depository library for Minnesota and South Dakota, and I have been in my current position since 1989. I served as Head of the Government Documents Department at the Minneapolis Public Library, a large selective depository library, from 1983 to 1989. Additionally, I was a member of the Depository Library Council to the Public Printer from 1998-2000; served as Chair of the Government Documents Round Table of the American Library Association in 1992-93; and am a frequent speaker on depository library issues at regional and national conferences. I am very pleased to appear this morning on behalf of the American Library Association (ALA), the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), and the Medical Library Association (MLA).

The issue before the Joint Committee on Printing today, the May Memorandum from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to executive departments and agencies on the "Procurement of Printing and Duplicating through the Government Printing Office," has an enormous impact on the Federal Depository Library Program and the public's access to tangible government publications. We commend you, Chairman Dayton and Vice Chairman Ney, for holding this important hearing on the OMB Memorandum. The library community has a very strong interest in Federal information policy. Collectively, our four associations represent over 90,000 librarians, as well as the more than 1300 libraries in every state and congressional district across the Nation that participate in the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP). Librarians are the crucial access points for the public when they need information from their Government. We are very concerned that, if implemented, the directive to executive agencies to move away from procuring publications through the Government Printing Office (GPO) will further erode the FDLP and exacerbate the longstanding problem of fugitive documents, resulting in a loss of access by the American public to their government information.

Before going any further with my formal statement, which I ask that you please include in the record of today's hearing, I would like to thank you, Chairman Dayton, for visiting the regional depository collections at the Government Publications Library, University of Minnesota, last Friday. I very much enjoyed hosting your brief tour of the collections and introducing you to several librarians from our local selective depository libraries. Since we had representatives of a small public library in a growing suburban area, a large urban public library, a law library, and a private academic library, you were able to hear the many uses which are made of government information in these varied settings. I think you also sensed the commitment these librarians, and all staff members in depository libraries, have to the important goal of providing government information to all people. You heard about community members who are not comfortable with any information on computers, and about academic scholars who love finding data online but want to be able to compare it with historical information available only on paper. You learned about the additional burdens the electronic transition is placing on libraries, and how they are meeting those challenges. And you also heard about our serious concerns about the long-term access to information that is produced only in digital form. In addition, we talked about the fact that 237 Minnesota printing firms are on GPO's master bid list, including seven small or disadvantaged businesses, and that in FY 2001, Minnesota printers received $954,442.32 in printing contracts from GPO. Minnesotans, like members of the public throughout the country, have many reasons to take interest in and be concerned about the important matters before this Committee.

I would like to make three key points this morning regarding the OMB Memorandum:

First, Federal agencies benefit by the transparent link that GPO currently provides between procuring agency publications and disseminating government publications to the public;

Second, the American people benefit when agency publications are disseminated through GPO to local Federal depository libraries in each congressional district across the country, where the public then has equal, efficient and ready access to that information;

And third, it is clear that the OMB directive will lead to more fugitive publications and less public access to government information. This comes at a time when Congress, the Executive Branch and the courts instead should be working together to improve public access and to meet the challenges of the electronic environment, particularly regarding the permanent public access to and preservation of electronic government information.

First, Federal agencies benefit by the transparent link that GPO currently provides between procuring agency publications and disseminating government publications to the public.

The OMB Memorandum at issue today will make it more difficult for agencies to meet their Title 44 obligations to inform the American public through the FDLP. Regardless of how they might procure or produce their government publications, agencies have an affirmative obligation to disseminate and provide broad public access to the information they create. From the earliest days of our democracy, Congress wisely recognized the importance of the public's right and need to have access to the information created by the Federal Government. To hold Government accountable for its actions, to educate and inform the citizenry, and to provide the public with information it has paid for with its tax dollars – it is for all these reasons that Congress and this Committee, in particular, have insisted that agencies fulfill their obligations under 44 USC Chapter 19 and disseminate their publications to Federal depository libraries and the public.

GPO provides agencies with an efficient and transparent mechanism to meet their Title 44 obligations and keep the public informed. The origins of the FDLP and its partnership with Congress date back to the Act of 1813, when Congress authorized legislation to provide one copy of the House and Senate Journals and other Congressional documents to certain universities, historical societies and state libraries. For more than 100 years, since the Printing Act of 1895, the link between producing, disseminating and no-fee public access to government publications, including those from Federal agencies, through the FDLP has worked effectively. When agencies comply with the Sec. 501 provisions of Title 44, the GPO procures and manages the printing contract for the agency's publication. GPO then adds to the printing order the additional number of copies required for depository libraries, and distributes those copies to the libraries, with no effort or cost on the part of the agency. As part of this process, GPO also catalogs and classifies each publication and announces its availability in its online Catalog of government publications.

This efficient link – from GPO, to depository libraries, and to the public who needs and uses agency publications on a daily basis – is transparent (indeed, sometimes even unknown) to the issuing agency. This link has proven to be cost-effective for Government agencies and responsive to the needs of users. Breaking this link, as the OMB Memorandum proposes, would require a massive duplication of effort on the part of agencies and huge costs for the Federal Government. And should agencies fail to meet this additional burden, it will result in a dramatic erosion of the public's access to government information.

Moreover, the OMB Memorandum at issue here today states that "departments and agencies shall ensure that all government publications´┐Żare made available to the depository library program through the Superintendent of Documents." OMB is basing this mandate on the assumption that today departments and agencies are complying fully with the 44 USC Chapter 19 requirements that government publications be part of the FDLP. Unfortunately, this is simply not so. In fact, when Title 44 was amended in 1976 to include law libraries and executive department and agencies as part of the FDLP, many Federal libraries sought depository status in order to receive copies of their own agency's publications. For example, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) library became a FDLP library in 1993 in order to ensure that copies of NOAA publications would be available to their own scientists and to the public.

The FDLP serves as a cost saving for Federal agency libraries by allowing them to select publications from other agencies as well to add to their collections for use by their agency's personnel, and, in many cases, the public. The departmental policy of the Department of Interior (DOI), for example, requires two copies of DOI publications to be deposited to their library in Washington, DC, but the library also selects publications from other executive departments through the FDLP to supplement their collection. Publications from NOAA, for example, assist DOI's Fish and Wildlife Service library users in their research and in policy development. Other departments and agencies either are not able to or are unwilling to provide even their own libraries with copies of their publications, and so Federal libraries rely on a comprehensive FDLP to provide services, including cataloging and other finding tools, and permanent public access to government publications.

Second, the American people benefit when agency publications are disseminated through GPO to local Federal depository libraries in each congressional district across the country, where the public then has equal, efficient and ready access to that information

The OMB Memorandum will make it more difficult for the public to access government information. Our Nation's libraries play a uniquely important role in helping the public access and use government information. Your constituents – whether they are rich or poor, young or old, live in a large city or in a remote rural area – all of them have equitable no-fee access to Federal government information through the collections and services provided by their local depository libraries. Indeed anyone, anywhere, can access the collections of depository libraries. Librarians working with and for the American public know first-hand, on a daily basis, the importance and impact that government information has on the health and lives of all Americans, on the economic well being of our Nation and on the preservation of our democracy. The more than 1300 Federal depository libraries across the country, including public, academic, law, special, Federal agency, research and medical libraries, provide access to the tremendous amount of critically important Federal government information on all subjects and in many formats, and assist the American public in finding and sorting through this vital national resource. As knowledge experts in today's information society, librarians:

  • Provide government information through our collections, and organize and develop these collections by making use of the cataloging and indexing services provided by GPO and other services, so that people can easily find the government information they need;
  • Represent important channels of access for the public to government information, especially helping to close the digital divide for those in poor or rural areas without access to the latest technology by providing computers with Internet access and related services;
  • Are educators and intermediaries who provide the necessary tools and expertise to assist the public in understanding and using the government information they find;
  • Contribute $3 for every $1 in cost to the Government and spend million of dollars annually for staff, space and equipment, and to buy commercial indexes, software, and access to networks to make government publications more accessible to the taxpayer;
  • Provide feedback and expertise to Government agencies about how members of the public (who often are not the primary audience for agency publications) use government publications and assist agencies in developing information products, infrastructures, and policies for information in all formats;
  • Partner with the Government in addressing the need for continuous, permanent public access to government information.

But librarians can't do any of these things if an agency's publications are not distributed to libraries and the public. The skills, expertise, and assistance that librarians can offer the public – services built on the historic partnership between libraries and the Federal Government to work together to help the public find and use the government information they need – these all go to waste if the Government doesn't hold up its end of the bargain and disseminate agency publications in the first place.

And third, it is clear that the OMB directive will lead to more fugitive government publications and less public access to government information. This comes at a time when Congress, the Executive Branch and the courts, instead should be working together to improve public access and to meet the challenges of the electronic environment, particularly regarding the permanent public access to and preservation of electronic government information.

There is no question that the OMB Memorandum will result in more fugitive government publications. Despite the requirements for agency dissemination in Title 44, it has been estimated that fifty percent of the government publications that Executive Branch agencies print today are "fugitive." This means that the printing or procurement is done outside of GPO or that agencies produce the publication on in-house printers. Most importantly, it also means that these publications are not known by GPO, are not cataloged by GPO and are not included in the FDLP, with the result that your constituents may be denied access to this information. Future generations also are denied the opportunity to benefit from, or even be aware of, this information that the Federal Government created at taxpayers' expense and that, by law, should be readily accessible to the public. Implementation of the OMB Memorandum will worsen this situation dramatically, not only because it will make it even more difficult to enforce the requirements of Title 44, but also because agencies will need to assume the additional costs of printing and distribution which are now borne by the GPO.

Locating a fugitive document to satisfy a user's important needs for information created by a Government agency is like trying to find a tiny needle in an endless row of haystacks. It is a very time-consuming and often fruitless search when you don't know which agency or department might have produced the information or data; when you don't know when the information was produced, or in what format; when the information has not been cataloged by GPO because the agency failed to meet its statutory requirements under Title 44; or when you don't know what the title is, or whether the information even exists. Unless GPO has cataloged the publication, it is going to be very difficult and frustrating to find. Particularly challenging and rarely successful is the task of searching for an electronic-only title that is hidden deeply within an agency web site—even when you know its title.

The fact of the matter is that when agencies use GPO, as required by law, to procure or print their publications, the public then has access to that information through the FDLP. When agencies do not use GPO, the public suffers because that information usually is lost and inaccessible. A 1998 review of the National Institutes of Health – an agency that has statutory authority to procure and print its publications – determined that only 22 percent of the NIH titles within the scope of the FDLP were actually provided to GPO for inclusion in the FDLP. This means that only about one out of every five publications issued by the NIH has been cataloged by GPO and provided to the public through depository libraries as mandated by law. The fact is that when agencies procure outside of GPO or print in-house, there is neither an economic incentive nor an enforcement mechanism in place today to ensure that they provide depository copies to the Superintendent of Documents. The effect of the OMB Memorandum will be to further exacerbate a problem that already is indefensible – it will result in more fugitive documents and less access to government information for the American public. Rather than looking for ways to help Federal agencies circumvent the law, OMB instead could and should be investing its time and resources in guiding agencies' commitment to dissemination and public access; to facilitating agencies' abilities to participate in the FDLP and make their publications accessible to the public; and to enforcing compliance where needed to ensure agencies' participation in the FDLP.

Finally, addressing the issues created by the OMB Memorandum will not, in itself, solve all the problems of public access to government information. During the past decade, Federal agencies, Congress and the courts have moved increasingly to rely on the Internet as the preferred system of public information access and dissemination. It is estimated that Federal entities today provide public access to more than 30 million web pages. This number will continue to grow exponentially. GPO itself, as mandated by Congress, continues its transition to a more electronic FDLP. While it is distributing fewer documents in paper, it is including many more electronic publications in the program by providing cataloging and links to publications through the Catalog of Government Publications. GPO also ensures permanent public access for documents in the program by retaining documents permanently on GPO servers or entering into partnerships with agencies and other organizations.

As all parts of the Government embrace electronic dissemination, the consensus among librarians is that overall, Government-wide progress in information management has been slow, uncoordinated and without a clear vision for the future. This is despite the explosive growth of a more electronic environment and the concurrent financial investments in technology. Unfortunately, the move to an e-Government has not been accompanied by the development of a comprehensive policy framework focusing on the life-cycle of electronic government information. Such a framework is necessary to ensure that the public will have seamless, continuous and permanent access to important electronic information. Without sound and reasonable information policies supported by adequate funding for the life-cycle of government information, e-Government can not succeed. It is critically important to recognize the responsibility of the Federal Government to ensure the permanent public access to and preservation of government information in all formats. Documents distributed in paper or microfiche through the FDLP are preserved permanently in the regional depository libraries that serve all states, thereby providing multiple points of permanent public access. Thus far, no similar system is in place for electronic government publications. Without a strong, coordinated national program to systematically capture, preserve, and maintain ongoing access to government information, important information is lost every day as files come and go from agency Web sites and computer servers. The information becomes inaccessible and thus useless to the American public whose tax dollars have supported its creation. We believe that this system of permanent public access can be accomplished through a comprehensively coordinated program that includes Federal agencies, the Superintendent of Documents, the National Archives and Records Administration, the Library of Congress and other national libraries, depository libraries, and other library partners.

Thank you very much for inviting me to participate in this very important hearing on the impact of the OMB Memorandum on public access to government information. In summary, I would like to reiterate that from the earliest days of our Nation's history, Congress recognized the important principle that the American public must have equal and ready access to government information. Congress established the Federal Depository Library Program over a hundred years ago as a partnership program between Congress, agencies, GPO, Federal depository libraries and the American public. The more than 1300 depository libraries nationwide have upheld their part of the partnership by providing no-fee public access to government information in many different formats; by providing expert knowledge and assistance in helping your constituents locate and use the government information they need; and by investing significantly in space, staff, cataloging and finding tools, and providing the technological infrastructure, including hardware, software, network capabilities and Internet access, necessary to provide access for your constituents to the growing number of electronic government publications.

The OMB Memorandum echoes earlier efforts, in 1987 and 1994, to transfer printing authority to executive branch agencies. We in the library community are seriously concerned that this action, if implemented, will result in reduced public access to government information and will potentially destroy the Federal Depository Library Program to which we, like you, are strongly committed.

Chairman Dayton and members of the Joint Committee on Printing, each year Congress appropriates funding for the Federal Depository Library Program as part of your partnership with the American public. Congress also has always provided the necessary oversight to ensure that agencies comply with the requirements of Title 44. Our members have always believed that the responsibility for ensuring public access to government information should remain with the elected representatives of the people. Our associations are committed to working with you to resolve the serious issue before you today that threatens to reduce the ability of your constituents to find important government information and, further, places the FDLP very much at risk. Thank you, and I will be pleased to answer any questions you might have.

Attachment: ALA Resolution on Executive Agency Procurement of Printing and Duplicating (June 2002)


2001-2002 CD#20.12
2002 ALA ANNUAL CONFERENCE

RESOLUTION ON EXECUTIVE AGENCY PROCUREMENT OF
PRINTING AND DUPLICATING

WHEREAS, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Memorandum M-02-07 proposes executive branch policy allowing agencies to produce or procure their own printing without going through the Government Printing Office (GPO); and

WHEREAS, the impact on public access to government information through the Federal Depository Library Program was inadequately addressed by the memorandum; and

WHEREAS, OMB has recommended that Chapter 48, Subpart 8.8 of the Code of Federal Regulations (Federal Acquisitions Regulations) be amended to reflect the policy outlined in OMB Memorandum M-02-07; and

WHEREAS, public comment on the proposed regulations to amend the Federal Acquisitions Regulations has not yet been requested; and

WHEREAS, Title 44, Section 501 of the United States Code requires Executive branch agencies to procure their printing through GPO; and

WHEREAS, for over a century GPO's role as central coordinator of printing has facilitated the procuring, indexing, cataloging, and distributing of government information to the public; and

WHEREAS, the decentralization of printing for executive agencies as proposed in the memorandum would disrupt the efficient link between production and cataloging, indexing and distribution of government information; and

WHEREAS, the decentralization of printing would disrupt the dissemination of government information through the Federal Depository Library Program, the GPO Sales Program, the Library of Congress International Exchange Program, By-Law distribution to the National Archives, Senate and House Libraries, the Library of Congress and GPO Access; and

WHEREAS, OMB claims there will be savings of $50 million to $70 million by permitting agencies to perform or procure their own printing, while GPO's analysis shows that if all executive branch printing were to be removed from GPO, the cost to the Government could potentially increase over current levels by $231.5 million to $335.2 million in the first year, and from $152.8 million to $256.5 million annually thereafter; and

WHEREAS, a recent study from the Department of Health and Human Services, "Review of the National Institutes of Health Printing Program," documented that large amounts of government information produced outside of GPO are not sent to Depository libraries in Compliance with Title 44, Chapters 17 and 19 of the United States Code; and

WHEREAS, a 1998 management audit of GPO by Booz-Allen & Hamilton, Inc., under contract to the General Accounting Office found widespread support in the executive branch for GPO's services; and

WHEREAS, the American Library Association has long supported a centralized procurement program for printing services; now, therefore be it

RESOLVED, that the American Library Association urge OMB to ensure executive agencies compliance with Title 44 of the United States Code; and be it further

RESOLVED, that urge OMB solicit public comment on the proposed regulations to amend the Federal Acquisitions Regulations through the Federal Register; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the American Library Association urge appropriate Congressional committees to hold hearings on OMB Memorandum M-02-07 to assess and address its fiscal impact and potential effect on dissemination to Federal Depository Libraries and public access to government information.

Adopted by the Council of the
American Library Association
Atlanta, GA
June 19, 2002

Wm R. Gordon
Secretary of the ALA Council


ORGANIZATIONAL BIOGRAPHIES

THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF LAW LIBRARIES (AALL)
The American Association of Law Libraries is a nonprofit educational organization of over 5,000 members who respond to the legal information needs of legislators, judges, and other public officials at all levels of government, corporations and small businesses, law professors and students, attorneys, and members of the general public. AALL's mission is to promote and enhance the value of law libraries, to foster law librarianship, and to provide leadership and advocacy in the field of legal information and information policy.

The American Association of Law Libraries is a nonprofit educational organization of over 5,000 members who respond to the legal information needs of legislators, judges, and other public officials at all levels of government, corporations and small businesses, law professors and students, attorneys, and members of the general public. AALL's mission is to promote and enhance the value of law libraries, to foster law librarianship, and to provide leadership and advocacy in the field of legal information and information policy.

THE AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION (ALA)
The American Library Association is a nonprofit educational organization of over 65,000 librarians, library educators, information specialists, library trustees, and friends of libraries representing public, school, academic, state, and specialized libraries. ALA is dedicated to the improvement of library and information services, to the public's right to a free and open information society--intellectual participation--and to the idea of intellectual freedom.

THE ASSOCIATION OF RESEARCH LIBRARIES (ARL)
The Association of Research Libraries is a not-for-profit organization representing 124 research libraries in the United States and Canada. Its mission is to identify and influence forces affecting the future of research libraries in the process of scholarly communication. ARL programs and services promote equitable access to, and effective use of, recorded knowledge in support of teaching, research, scholarship, and community service.

THE MEDICAL LIBRARY ASSOCIATION (MLA)
MLA is a professional organization established in 1898 and headquartered in Chicago that represents over 4,000 individuals and 1,200 institutions involved in the management and dissemination of biomedical information to support patient care, education, and research.