Commerce to close NTIS

The Commerce Department plans to close the National Technical Information Service because its core function of providing government information for a fee is no longer needed, Commerce Secretary William Daley announced today.

NTIS collects, archives and sells scientific, technical, engineering and related business information produced by or for the government. It is required by law to cover all its expenses. However, it has lost several million dollars over the past few years as it competes with agencies that now routinely place documents on their own World Wide Web sites for free.

NTIS operates under a "fundamentally flawed business premise," Daley said in a memo obtained by Federal Computer Week. "After much analysis and consideration of several alternatives, we concluded that closing NTIS is the best course of action. I will be sending legislation to Congress to do so."

Daley next month will send to Congress proposed legislation closing NTIS and shifting its paper, microfiche and digital archives and bibliographic database to the Library of Congress. In addition, Commerce said it will work to ensure that government technical and business information remains available to the public for "long periods of time" on the Internet.

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