ARCHIVED: In support of FY 2005 Budget Request of the Government Printing Office

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May 27, 2004

The Honorable Jack Kingston
Chairman
Subcommittee on Legislative
Committee on Appropriations
U.S. House of Representatives
H-147 Capitol Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-6025

Dear Chairman Kingston:

On behalf of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), the Special Libraries Association (SLA) and the American Library Association (ALA), we write in support of the FY 2005 appropriations request for the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO). Collectively, these four associations represent thousands of individuals and institutions serving communities throughout the Nation, including the nearly 1300 federal depository libraries located in nearly every congressional district.

AALL is a nonprofit educational organization with over 5,000 members dedicated to promoting and enhancing the value of law libraries, fostering law librarianship and providing leadership and advocacy in the field of legal information and information policy. ARL is an Association of 123 research libraries in North America. ARL programs and services promote equitable access to and effective use of recorded knowledge in support of teaching, research. SLA is a nonprofit global organization that serves more than 12,000 members in 83 countries in the information profession, including corporate, academic and government information specialists. ALA is a nonprofit educational organization of 64,000 librarians, library trustees, and other friends of libraries dedicated to improving library services and promoting the public interest in a free and open information society.

FY 2005 Budget Request Essential
We are pleased to submit a statement for the record on the FY 2005 appropriations for the Government Printing Office and the Superintendent of Documents Salaries and Expenses. We urge your support for the Public Printer's FY 2005 budget request of $150,833,000 for the GPO that includes $33,033,000 for the Salaries and Expenses (S&E) Appropriation of the Superintendent of Documents and $88,800,000 for the Congressional Printing and Binding (CP&B) Appropriation. The S&E request includes $27 million to fund the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP), $5 million for the Cataloging and Indexing Program, and $1 million for the International Exchange Program. This amount includes necessary increases to support the continued operation of the FDLP, its continuing electronic transition plans and the increased demands upon GPO Access.

We urge you to approve the full S&E appropriations request for FY 2005. The majority of the S&E appropriation is for the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP), by which congressional and other important Government publications and information products are disseminated to the nearly 1,300 participating academic, public, Federal, law and other libraries nationwide.

We strongly urge you to support GPO's continuing effort to replace obsolete technology and to upgrade the retrieval system for GPO Access. An improved GPO Accessis of crucial importance to the thousands of Americans that rely on it each day to locate the essential government information they need.

The FDLP and GPO Access are vital to the dissemination and acquisition of Federal government information by our citizens. We believe that the FY 2005 S&E budget request is essential to the continued transition to a more electronic program and the continued success of GPO Access. Since GPO is responsible for permanent public access to the content of its Electronic Collection, funding to strengthen digital archiving and migration capabilities is a critically important component.

Growth of GPO Access and the Electronic Collection Impressive
The FDLP is a unique program and one of the most effective, efficient and successful partnerships between Congress and the American public. The FDLP provides your constituents with equitable, ready, efficient and no-fee access to Federal government information in an increasingly electronic environment. In addition to Congress, the White House, approximately 130 Federal departments and agencies, along with the courts rely increasingly on GPO's state-of-the-art technologies to create and disseminate government information through the Internet.

One of the critical keys to GPO's successful transition to a more electronic program has been the growth of the GPO Access system, a central access point within the GPO for electronic government information that today makes available to the public approximately 225,000 titles. Created by Public Law 103-40, GPO Access has grown into a unique digital collection of official government databases from all three branches of government including the Congressional Record, the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations. Currently, an average of 31 million documents are downloaded by the public each month, a substantial increase from last year that attests to the importance and value of this award-winning system to the American public.

GPO has continued to make excellent progress over the past year in enhancing its Electronic Collection. GPO constantly adds new data and products to the system, building a current collection of valuable new electronic resources. At the same time, GPO provides permanent access to core legislative and regulatory information and to agency information managed by GPO on GPO servers. Each year, this historic electronic collection grows, requiring GPO to meet its responsibility for ensuring permanent public access. This function presents probably the most difficult challenge of the networked electronic environment. Just as the government has an affirmative obligation to provide current access to its information, in the digital arena this obligation extends to ensuring the preservation of and permanent public access to electronic government publications.

FDLP Libraries' Significant Services and Investments
Each participating federal depository library makes significant investments to ensure that the public has effective access to government information. For example, FDLP libraries invest in technologies to assist in accessing electronic government information. These investments exemplify the substantial costs that participating depository libraries incur in order to provide your constituents with equitable, ready, efficient and no-fee access to government information in both print and electronic formats. These costs include providing highly trained staff, adequate space, necessary additional materials, and expensive equipment and Internet connections. The success of GPO Access cannot be measured without acknowledging the substantial costs covered by libraries.

Federal depository libraries serve as important channels of public access to government publications and contribute significantly to the success of this Program. The government's responsibility to make government publications in both tangible and electronic formats available to depository libraries is successful because of the necessary partnerships developed between the Federal government, the GPO, and the Federal depository libraries. In order for GPO to continue to increase the amount of government information available for current and future public access through the Internet and in order for the Federal Government to fulfill its responsibilities for this partnership, it is critically important that Congress provide adequate funds to support the transition to a more electronic program.

Importance of Full Funding for the CP&B
We also urge your support for the Public Printer's request of $88,800,000 for the Congressional Printing and Binding (CP&B) appropriation. Broad public access to legislative information, including the Congressional Record, the text of bills, as well as committee hearings, reports, documents and other legislative materials, is crucial to the ability of our citizenry to engage in the political process. Indeed, recent polls have demonstrated the public's increasing awareness of and thirst for information from their government, including Congress. Full support for the CP&B request will ensure the necessary electronic infrastructure to make congressional materials available in a timely manner for permanent accessibility through GPO Access and will maintain GPO's in-plant printing operation for Congress.

Chairman Kingston, we are very grateful to you and to members of the Subcommittee for your past support of GPO Access, the Federal Depository Library Program and GPO's Congressional Printing and Binding services. The investment in systems and services to provide the public with government publications in all formats will ensure that valuable electronic government information created today will be available and preserved for future generations. We respectfully urge your continued support by approving the Government Printing Office's FY 2005 appropriations request in its entirety. We ask that you please include this statement as part of the recent hearing record. Thank you very much.

Sincerely,

Mary Alice Baish
American Association of Law Libraries

Emily Sheketoff
American Library Association

Prudence S. Adler
Association of Research Libraries

Douglas Newcomb
Special Libraries Association