ARCHIVED: GPO/NCLIS Standards Assessment Project

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November 22, 1996

Honorable William M. Thomas
Chairman, Joint Committee on Printing
United States House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515-0521

Dear Representative Thomas:

We are writing today on behalf of our associations to urge your support for the "Assessment of Standards for the Creation, Dissemination, and Permanent Accessibility of Electronic Government Products." As part of the Congressionally-mandated study undertaken last year, the Government Printing Office (GPO) defined the need for a technical analysis to determine the most cost effective way to provide access for the American public to electronic federal government information. The issues recognized in the Study to Identify Measures Necessary for a Successful Transition to a More Electronic Federal Depository Library Program demonstrate the continued, critical need for this technical analysis. We believe that the recently-proposed joint GPO/NCLIS Standards Assessment Project is more necessary than ever to assist Congress, agencies and the GPO in making informed decisions critical to the future of the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP).

During the past year, in our several joint letters of comment to the Public Printer regarding the GPO Transition Plan and the GPO Study, we reiterated the need for data collection and analysis to support the transition to a more electronic FDLP. We strongly believed then, as we do now, that concrete data is needed regarding standards used by agencies for the creation and dissemination of electronic government information. The proposed standards assessment is the logical and necessary next step in resolving the following key issues identified in last year's Study:

* the publishing plans of Federal agencies;
* the cost-effectiveness of various dissemination formats;
* the usefulness of various electronic formats to depository libraries and the public;
* the standards available for use with electronic government information products.

The results of this project will assist Congress and policymakers in making informed, cost-effective decisions regarding the life cycle of electronic government information.

The U.S. National Commission on Libraries and Information Science, whose mission is to advise the President and the Congress on national policies and plans for library and information services, is in a unique position to assist GPO in developing this project. NCLIS has long identified public access to government information and the role of libraries as local intermediaries among its highest priorities. We believe that the collaboration between NCLIS and GPO will facilitate open and purposeful dialogue with Federal agencies, the National Archives and Records Administration, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and other interested parties. In addition, NCLIS participated very successfully in the recent fall meetings of the Depository Library Council and received valuable input to the project from the depository library community.

We believe that the proposed GPO/NCLIS Standards Assessment Project is a critical and timely step towards resolving some of the remaining issues identified by the GPO Study. It will provide needed information to facilitate the transition to a more electronic FDLP thereby ensuring that Congress's goal of using new technologies to broaden public access to government information is realized. We respectfully urge your support for this important endeavor and thank you for your consideration in this matter.


Robert L. Oakley
Washington Affairs Representative
American Association of Law Libraries

Prudence S. Adler
Assistant Executive Director
Association of Research Libraries

David R. Bender
Executive Director
Special Libraries Association

Michael F. DiMario, Public Printer, U.S. Government Printing Office
Jeanne Hurley Simon, Chairperson, National Commission on Libraries and Information Science
Honorable Steny H. Hoyer, House Minority Member, Joint Committee on Printing
Honorable John Warner, Vice-Chairman, Joint Committee on Printing
Honorable Wendell H. Ford, Senate Minority Member, Joint Committee on Printing


The American Association of Law Libraries is a nonprofit educational organization with over 5,000 members nationwide. Our members respond to the legal and governmental 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.

The Association of Research Libraries is a not-for-profit organization representing 119 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 Special Libraries Association is an international professional association serving more than 14,000 members of the information profession, including special librarians, information managers, brokers, and consultants. The Association has 56 regional/state chapters in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and the Arabian Gulf States and 28 divisions representing subject interests or specializations. Special libraries/information centers can be found in organizations with specialized or focused information needs, such as corporations, law firms, news organizations, government agencies, associations, colleges, museums, and hospitals.