Letter to the editor
Regarding Patrice McDermott's insightful comments on the FirstGov initiative
["FirstGov: All bark, no bite," FCW, Aug. 14], we'd like to point out that
the primary objective of FirstGov "identifying and organizing information,
as the president said, "in a way that makes it easier for the public to
find the information it seeks'" is the principle on which the Government
Printing Office's Federal Depository Library Program has been operating
for more than a century.
The GPO has put this principle into practice electronically with GPO
Access and its Federal Depository Library
Program Electronic Collection,
as well as by providing extensive bibliographic information online in the
Catalog of U.S. Government Publications.
For the millions of people who use GPO Access every month, these resources
offer a comprehensive suite of tools that seek out, point to and provide
in-depth access to online publications from virtually every agency in all
three branches of the federal government.
Patrice's column raises the question of how users can be assured that
their searches on a given topic will reveal everything the government has
to offer in the absence of a comprehensive, mandated and universally accepted
system for providing locator information.
The GPO, as well as the national libraries, have been engaged in this
work for many years. Indeed, their resulting systems draw on a vast, well-established
pool of information that includes information from the entire federal government.
We hope that any new portal to government information products and services
avails itself of the efforts these other systems have made at providing
effective public access to government information.
Andrew M. Sherman
Office of Congressional, Legislative and Public Affairs
Government Printing Office