Panel: Overhaul data dissemination
- By Colleen O'Hara
- Nov 15, 2000
A presidential advisory commission is proposing sweeping changes to how
the government maintains and disseminates public documents in the era of
In a draft report and accompanying draft legislation, the National Commission
on Libraries and Information Science recommended the formation of an independent
agency in the executive branch to provide policy leadership, oversight and
accountability for public information dissemination.
The new agency, dubbed the Public Information Resources Administration,
would also serve as the focal point for establishing government information
as a strategic national asset. Certain functions of the Government Printing
Office and the Commerce Department's National Technical Information Service
would be rolled into the new agency.
Other actions the commission is proposing in its draft documents include:
* Creating two other new offices to help the judicial and legislative
branches manage their public information responsibilities.
* Revamping the Federal Depository Library Program.
* Establishing a federal Webmaster position.
* Building a single electronic public information resources database
to complement agency Web site postings.
The commission also recommended changing the NTIS business model to
give the agency a new annual $5 million appropriation to cover its "public
good" activities. These activities include collecting or acquiring reports;
indexing, abstracting and cataloging those reports; and loading and maintaining
the searchable NTIS database on a Web site for free public access.
Commerce last summer announced plans to close NTIS in part because its
core function of selling government information is no longer needed as agencies
increasingly offer documents for free on their Web sites.
The changes, according to the commission, will help create a cohesive
approach to making government information available to the public and will
reduce redundant and overlapping efforts across government. They will also
provide a way to ensure that documents agencies post on the Web are maintained
for permanent public access.
The commission expects to release a draft final copy of the report for
public comment after Thanksgiving. The final report, which was initiated
at the request of Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.),
is due to Congress on Dec. 15.