Panel proposes public info overhaul

The NCLIS report

An independent commission has delivered its proposal to overhaul the way the federal government manages and disseminates public information.

The U.S. National Commission on Libraries and Information Science submitted its final report, "A Comprehensive Assessment of Public Information Dissemination," to Congress and the White House on Jan. 26.

The report addresses the problems agencies have with managing electronic documents and the challenges they face working under a fragmented information dissemination structure.

NCLIS says that the Internet has made public data more widely available, but the data is not always easy to locate, is stored in different formats and often disappears from Web sites within a few days. And while there always will be a need for central information service agencies such as the Government Printing Office, such repositories must adapt to conditions in the Electronic Age, the commission noted.

In its report, NCLIS proposes a new independent organization called the Public Information Resources Administration that would act as the lead agency for information policy and dissemination. Other recommendations include:

Add a new line item to agency budgets for information dissemination. Include broad, explicit public information dissemination authority in all agencies' missions. Establish the Congressional Information Resources Office and the Judicial Information Resources Office. Extend key provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act to the legislative and judicial branches. Retain temporarily the National Technical Information Service in the Commerce Department, update its business model and fund it. Improve the training of librarians and other information professionals to better assist users of public information. Review and harmonize all laws that deal with public information dissemination.

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