Letters

A balanced view of NTIS

I am writing on behalf of all National Technical Information Service employees. We noted with interest J. Timothy Sprehe's commentary concerning Commerce Secretary William Daley's proposal to eliminate NTIS [FCW, Aug. 30].

We realize that the commentary most likely was based on information provided by the Commerce Department. We believe it is important that Sprehe is provided with a balanced and accurate view of our agency and the vital functions it performs.

I would like to point out two important points contained in our response to the secretary's proposal. The first point concerns two statistics that Daley quoted in a recent speech. He stated that only "11 or 12 percent of minority families vs. one-third of white families have Internet access." He further stated that he did not "want the Internet to become an economic divide in the next century."

We agree with Daley. Therefore, we cannot understand the rationale that NTIS is no longer needed because information is available free of charge on the Internet. Where will those 88 percent or 90 percent of minorities and 70 percent of whites obtain the valuable information in the NTIS collection?

The legislation proposes to close NTIS and move its archival, cataloging, distribution and a few other functions to the Library of Congress. The proposal further wants all of NTIS' scientific, technical and engineering information provided free to the public. If NTIS' functions were transferred to LOC, then funds would have to be appropriated to the library to carry out these functions.

The second point I would like to bring to your attention is that NTIS is required to recover the costs of providing its products and services. Only those individuals and institutions who directly benefit from using NTIS' products and services pay the associated costs. The result of the department's proposal is that the burden of financing these products and services would fall on the shoulders of all taxpayers.

Louisa W. DayPresident, Local 1627Washington, D.C.

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