Prepared remarks of
American Association of Law Libraries
July 23, 1997
I am pleased to appear before you this afternoon to discuss the
Administration's views on how we can more effectively manage the Government's
printing and information dissemination activities, and our approach to the
reform of Title 44. I am particularly pleased with the spirit of cooperation
which the library community, the Congress, and other parties are taking are
bring to this effort.
For four years now, we have made very little progress. Only now is it
becoming clear to all parties that there are real Constitutional issues, and
real issues about the most cost-effective ways to disseminate government
information. Meanwhile, we are seeing the technology crash ahead.
So you can imagine my pleasure, and indeed relief, when the new Staff Director
of the Joint Committee on Printing, Eric Peterson, came to OMB and said "let*,s
solve this in our lifetime." Our response was to note, as former OMB Director
Alice Rivlin testified in 1994, and as Sally Katzen testified in 1995 and again
in 1996, that three problems must be addressed if we are to have a successful
- the Constitutional issues described by the Justice Department
must be resolved;
- the Government Printing Office must be put on a firmer and
more businesslike footing; and,
- mechanisms must be developed to preserve and enhance
the role of the Depository Library Program.
Mr. Peterson assured us that everything was on the table, and that we could
dispense with preconceived notions.
Accordingly, the Administration is committed to working with the Congress to
comprehensively reform the printing and related provisions of Title 44 to
assure that Congress' mandate for an informed citizenry is met in the face of
advancing technology. I believe we are making progress.
First, I firmly believe that the long-standing separation of powers issue can
Second, I think there is receptivity to permitting the Executive branch to
determine its own printing policies, under statutory principles. This would
provide greater flexibility to make the transition carefully, humanely, and
cost-effectively to a more electronic way of doing business. Perhaps more
importantly, this approach would lead to Executive branch printing policy that
is developed in close cooperation with the customer agencies. By having the
Executive branch, in effect, "own" the policy, I believe that many of the
problems expressed regarding "compliance" with the present defective scheme
will be alleviated. We also believe that increased flexibility will, by the
force of competition, reduce the costs and improve the timeliness and quality
of producing government documents. Such improvement is an absolute must in
today's budget environment. On this point, we intend to rely even more than we
do today on the commercial printing industry to meet government requirements,
and to assure that industry continues to have convenient, centralized access to
information about government printing opportunities.
The third area is the need to preserve and enhance public access to
government information. Accordingly, the core functions of the Superintendent
of Documents -- cataloguing, managing the sales program, and supporting the
Depository Library Program -- should be retained. In addition, a system of
strong but practical checks and balances need to be in place to assure that any
new printing regime in fact enhances public access through the Depository
Libraries. The agency buy-in I mentioned earlier is a key part of that
system. But we also recognize that incentives, and disincentives, will need to
be built in so that the system operates organically to assure public access,
without requiring detailed "policing" by the Congress or OMB.
Beyond revamping the current arrangements for information on paper, we must
deal with information dissemination in the electronic era. In essence we must
assure that the electronic bookshelves of the 21st Century are continuously
restocked. We must do this in a way that recognizes and enables the migration
towards an even more electronic government and a more electronic Depository
Library Program, solves the *&fugitive*8 document problem, and does so in a
manner consistent with the Freedom of Information Act and the Copyright Act.
On the one hand, simply stating that all government information of potential
informative value to the public must be accessible through the library program
is too simplistic. On the other hand, it would not be appropriate for
legislation to spell out with specificity what particular technologies and
standards are to be used to achieve the general goal.
Accordingly, we look to the future of information dissemination and the
depository libraries as one which relies in substantial part on distributed
network-based information dissemination -- for example by using the Internet
and the World-Wide Web which is experiencing such explosive growth and is in
part the very source of our dilemma -- in lieu of physically handling and
housing great volumes of paper publications. Our challenge is to construct a
strong program that meets the needs of the libraries and American public,
ensures permanent access, has an adequate coordinating and oversight mechanism,
and at the same time capitalizes on advanced search capabilities, data
warehousing, distributed networks, and decentralized dissemination from
Perhaps not surprisingly, we believe the result may look similar to the
government*,s new information technology model itself -- centralized policy
oversight with distributed management, acquisition, implementation, and
operations. We have been using this model to implement the Information
Technology Management Reform Act of 1996 (ITMRA). The ITMRA replaced a thirty
year system of centralized policy and operational micro-management with a
system empowering agencies to manage their own IT investments, while at the
same time holding them accountable. The result has been an enthusiastic
embrace of these new duties and responsibilities and an unprecedented level of
cooperation among agencies, and between the agencies and OMB.
Central among its provisions, the ITMRA established agency Chief Information
Officers -- who are accountable directly to their agency heads -- as the
responsible focal points for information resources management. This includes
compliance with the public information dissemination requirements of the
Paperwork Reduction Act and A-130. Accordingly, it may be appropriate to link
the requirements regarding printing and information dissemination to the other
information resources management responsibilities of the Chief Information
Turning to specifics, as you know we have been engaged in a series of quiet
discussions with staff of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration.
While many details remain unresolved, the broad outlines of an approach are
emerging. I understand that Eric Peterson, the JCP Staff Director shared our
general approach with some of you yesterday, and I want to take the opportunity
today to do the same. As Eric mentioned, this is only a preliminary approach,
and one that we are very much interested in putting on the table for
discussion. Title 44 should be amended soon, but such an undertaking should
not be done in haste. Accordingly such discussion and consultation is very
There are perhaps six key features to the emerging solution that are worth
- The GPO will continue to operate in the Legislative Branch handling the
production and procurement of Congressional printing, and available to
Executive and Judicial Branch agencies as an optional source of printing.
- The Superintendent of Documents will continue to be a Legislative Branch
employee, responsible for the Depository Library Program and for the
cataloguing and sales programs.
- Executive branch agencies will be permitted increased choice in how they
acquire printing services. They may choose to buy from or through GPO as they
do today, they may procure through one of a handful of Executive branch
"Executive agents," or directly from private sector printers. We will limit
the scope of agency "in-house" printing, and all procurement opportunities will
be posted through a centralized system for the benefit of both the SupDocs and
the private sector printing industry.
- Through the use of procurement regulations, agencies will be required to
notify the Superintendent of Documents prior to the production of information
products that are likely to be of interest to the public, so that the
Superintendent may "ride" the production order for the Depository Libraries.
- Failure by agencies to make timely notification to the Superintendent of
Documents will be prevented and, if necessary, corrected, by a variety of
safeguards, including a requirement that the agencies provide the copies of the
fugitive documents to the SupDocs at their own expense.
- On the electronic side, provision will be made for long-term access to
I am confident that these discussions are producing a balanced approach. It
is our intent to circulate widely a draft bill that would codify these
arrangements in August, with a goal of introducing consensus legislation early
Thank you for your attention. I look forward to our panel discussion.