NEWS FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY:
SEPTEMBER 1995

Table of Contents

  1. U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee Shields FDLP
  2. Senate/House Legislative Branch Appropriations
    Conference Committee Highlights
  3. Congress OKs Study on Implementing an Electronic FDLP
  4. Forum on Government Information Policy
  5. House Oversight Committee Hearing held on
    Government Printing Reform and Title 44
  6. Congressman Dick Chrysler Leads Drive to Privatize NTIS
  7. Librarians as Lobbyists
  8. CNI Federal Information Initiative
  9. Chemicals in the Environment


(1) U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee Shields FDLP

The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee voted on July 20 to fund the SuDocs Salaries and Expense fund at a level of $30.3 million, about $13.9 million higher that the corresponding House authorization. In addition, the Senate committee members rejected the House proposal that executive agencies fund the production and distribution of any print or microfiche products for depository libraries as a way of encouraging them to adopt electronic dissemination of government information. The committee characterized the House proposal an a de facto "amendment to title 44 of the U.S. Code [that] more properly falls under the jurisdiction of the Joint Committee on Printing."

According to the committee,

"Public access to government information is a basic right of every American citizen. The Committee recognizes the critically important service that the Government Printing Office and participating libraries in the Federal Depository Library Program provide to citizens throughout the country in furnishing timely, equitable access to Government information.

The dramatic advances in technology provide new opportunities for enhancing and improving public access. However, the increasing utilization of electronic technologies in support of dissemination programs by all branches of government requires careful analysis, planning, and probable restructuring of the current program. Without this analysis, planning, and a strongly coordinated effort, improvements to the program will be delayed, costly, and very well may compromise the public's right to Government information.

The Committee believes the planning should incorporate the goals of equitable, efficient, timely, and dependable access to Government information. The Committee supports a strong coordinated effort between the respective oversight and appropriation committee, the Government Printing Office, executive branch agencies, participating depository libraries, and other relevant and appropriate organizations.

To this end, the Committee directs the Public Printer to initiate a study....

For more information, consult H.R. 1854, Legislative Branch Appropriations for FY96 [S. Rpt. 100-114].

Source: Vigdor Schreibman, FINS Special Report, July 19, 1995.


(2) Senate/House Legislative Branch Appropriations
Conference Committee Highlights

The House conferees agreed to accept the Senate-passed authorization of $30.3 million for the Superintendent of Documents Salaries and Expenses account, allowing the House attempt to cut the Federal Depository Library Program by 50 percent to die. In addition, the House proposal that executive agencies pay the cost of producing and distributing print and microfiche government documents died. The Public Printer will be required however in the next budget process to outline a proposal for converting the FDLP publication and distribution process from a primarily paper and microfiche one to a primarily electronic one.

Other highlights from S. Rpt. 104-114 include:

Source: ALAWON, Vol. 4, No. 75, August 4, 1995.


(3) Congress OKs Study on Implementing an Electronic FDLP

Congress has given GPO the go-ahead to figure out the best way to move from a predominately print and microfiche-based Federal Depository Library Program to a more electronic-based one. GPO will gather information by surveying depository libraries, users, federal agencies, library associations, and current technology vendors.

Among other objectives, the study will :

The completed study is due March 26.

An executive working group, coordinated by GPO's Superintendent of Documents Wayne P. Kelly, will consist of representatives from the Joint Committee on Printing, the Office of Management and Budget, the House Oversight Committee, the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, the Government Printing Office, the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress, the Center for Electronic Records of the National Archives and Records Administration, the Federal Publishers Committee, the Interagency Council on Printing and Publication Services, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, and the Federal depository library community.

The working group will be assisted by advisors from the Supreme Court, the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science, CENDI (a group representing several Federal scientific and technical information activities), the Information Industry, major library associations, the Depository Library Council, and state governments.

Individuals and organizations wishing to provide comments or suggestions about the study or specific study tasks can send an Internet message to [study@gpo.gov].

Source: GPO Study/Press Release, September 15, 1995.


(4) Forum on Government Information Policy

In anticipation of delivering congressional testimony, ALA President Betty Turock convened a Forum on Government Information Policy on July 20-21 in Washington, D.C. Representatives from the American Association of Law Libraries, the Association of Research Libraries, the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies, the Medical Library Association, the Special Libraries Association, and the Urban Libraries Council also participated.

The Forum built on a "Framework" document, "Enhanced Library Access and Dissemination of Federal Government Information : A Framework for Future Discussion" drafted by individuals from various library associations and endorsed by several, including ALA. Forum participants then developed a "Model for 'New Universe" of Federal Inforamtion Access and Dissemination" as a working document for further discussion as well as a working proposal for Turock's scheduled August 1 congressional testimony.

The model would (1) place responsibility for dissemination of government information with a chief Federal Information Dissemination Officer (now the Superintendent of Documents) responsible to a Coordinating Council Steering Committee with representatives from the three branches of government and (2) reinvent the Depository Library Program as a flexible federal/state/local partnership.

Copies of both the "Framework" and "New Universe" documents are available on the ALA Gopher. The Model for "New Universe" of Federal Information Access and Dissemination Working Document (August 4, 1995) is also available in ALAWON, Vol. 4, No. 77, August 9, 1995.

Source: ALAWON, Vol. 4, No. 76 and 77, August 9, 1995.


(5) House Oversight Committee Hearing held on
Government Printing Reform and Title 44

On August 1, 1995, the House Oversight Committee conducted a hearing on how to increase the use of electronic technology for government information access and on several pending measures to restructure the current government printing system.

During the hearing, Committee Chair Bill Thomas (R-CA) compared the 37 volumes of the U.S. Code on a cart with a single CD in his hand. He questioned why the printed version is still the "official" one.

Four panels were called upon to deliver testimony.

The first panel consisted of Representatives Jennifer Dunn (R-WA) and Scott Klug (R-WI). Although Dunn favored GPO remaining the government's print procurement agency, he suggested eliminating most of its in-house print capabilities. She emphasized that her proposal would bring many fugitive executive documents back into the depository program. Klug, leader of the House privatization efforts, asserted that all GPO printing should be privatized.

The second panel consisted of Public Printer Michael DiMario and Sally Katzen, Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Office of Management and Budget. Dimario pointed out that as a result of the GPO Access Act, the Government Printing Office was providing a full range of multi-media services to Congress, federal agencies, and the public. Katzen emphasized that "reinventing" efforts need to be comprehensive as well as involve all interested parties.

Panel three consisted of Betty Turock, President of ALA, and Superintendent of Documents Wayne Kelly. Turock emphasized three major points: (1) Change is necessary in the face of scarce resources and evolving technology. She summarized innovative proposals suggested by library associations. (2) Improvements must build on current strengths. Through the Depository Library Program, Congress is "leveraging" an enormous contribution from libraries to better serve constitutents". (3) Costs and implications of proposed changes must be known. Turock cautioned that an immediate switch to all-electronic distribution would shift major costs to libraries and the public. Wayne Kelly cautioned that changes to Title 44 must include certain safeguards and that there are certain perils -- authenticity and preservation as examples -- in the use of electronic technologies.

The final panel consisted of Raymond Lawton, Chairman of the Board of the Printing Industries of America; Fred Antoun, GPO Contractors Coalition; and David Mason, Heritage Foundation. They agreed that all government printing should be performed by the private sector. Lawson stated that an open-procurement, centralized system like GPO should be retained. Mason recommended that GPO be abolished and that the indexing and depository libraries function be moved to the Library of Congress.

Source: ALAWON, Vol. 4, No. 76, August 9, 1995. Copies of Michael Dimario's prepared statement and remarks for the House Oversight Committee on Government Printing Reform (August 1, 1995) are available in Vol. 16, #11 (Sept. 1, 1995) issue of Administrative Notes. Wayne Kelly's prepared statement is available in Vol. 16, #10 (August 15, 1995) of Administrative Notes.


(6) Congressman Dick Chrysler (R-MI)
Leads Drive To Privatize NTIS

H.R. 1756, to abolish the Department of Commerce, was introduced by Congressman Dick Chrysler of Michigan and about 60 colleagues on June 7 and referred to 11 different committees. As introduced, H.R. 1756 would privatize NTIS and require an attempt to sell its assets. The property of the agency is essentially the 2.5 million U.S. government sponsored research and development reports that are available through the NTIS Clearinghouse.

Several hearings on the bill have been held in the past few weeks, including one on September 12 in the House Science Committee, chaired by Congressman Robert Walker (R-PA). At the hearing, Jean Mayhew, Chair of the NTIS Advisory Board, recommended reorganizing NTIS as a government corporation. When the Science Committee marked up the bill on September 14, an amendment by Congressman Tom Davis (R-VA) was adopted requiring that the proposed Commerce Programs Resolution Agency (which would replace the Department of Commerce if the legislation is passed) submit to Congress a proposal for legislation to establish NTIS as a wholly-owned government corporation.

ALA has written Chairman Walker recommending that NTIS continue to operate as a self-supporting, not-for-profit public sector organization with continued Congressional oversight. ALA also recommended deletion of the provision of H.R. 1756 requiring privatization of the agency, pointing out that privatizing NTIS would jeopardize the availabilty in perpetuity of the research results of the federal government.

Due to the large number of committees involved, it is impossible to predict what is going to happen to the Department of Commerce or NTIS. The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, for example, has issued a committee report entitled S.929, the Department of Commerce Dismantling Act (S. Rpt. 104-139), calling for the termination of NTIS and requiring the General Services Administration to attempt to sell the property of NTIS to a private entity intending to perform substantially the same functions performed by NTIS. And President Clinton has gone on record opposing the dismantling of the Department of Commerce.

Source: ALAWON, Vol. 4, No. 84, September 25, 1995.


(7) Librarians as Lobbyists

Many librarians don't take advantage of the social aspects of their work, according to long-time Congressional staffer Bernadine Abbott Hoduski. "It's as important to go to the banquet and cocktail parties at a professional conference as it is to attend the business meetings. That is how you meet potential allies who can work with you to get your ideas enacted into legislation."

Hoduski, a former member of the Professional Staff of the U.S. Congress Joint Committee on Printing, shared this insight as the keynote speaker of the Northeast Regional Conference of Federal Documents Depository Librarians on September 21, 1995.

"Too many librarians are active only within their own particular interest group. They spend all their time talking with each other instead of building common ground with a broader based coalition". Hoduski worked successfully with the library community, Congress, the executive branch, and the information industry to improve public access to government information.

Source: Mary Redmond, New York State Library, GOVDOC-L, September 26, 1995.


(8) CNI Federal Information Initiative

Over the next year, the Coalition for Networked Information will be conducting a study on "Access to and Services for Federal Information in the Networked Environment". When completed, the study will result in a white paper that will guide higher education and other institutions, such as public and state libraries, in the development of strategies for providing access to federal government information by their constituencies using the powerful, and rapidly expanding gloabl information infrasructure.

With the increasing availability and use of information technologies, there has been a significant change in how federal agencies disseminate government information. This change is resulting in new dissemination mechanisms, as well as new and changing user needs and expectations. As a result, the responsibilities and capacities of institutions that facilitate the flow of government information to academic and citizen communities need to be rethought in this shifting environment.

The Coalition for Networked Information, a joint project of the Association of Research Libraries, Educom, and CAUSE, has hired Joan Cheverie, Head, Government Documents Department, Georgetown University, to head the project on a half-time basis. For More information, contact Cheverie at the CNI, 21 Dupont Circle, suite 800, Washington, D.C. 20036; telephone : (202) 296-5098; fax: (202) 872-0884; or e-mail: [jchev@cni.org].

Source: GOVDOC-L, October 2, 1995.


(9) Chemicals in the Environment

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maintains a wide range of environmental information. Some of this information tells us what chemicals and pollutants are released by industrial plants. Other information tells us about the health and environmental effects of chemicals. Still other information tells us what chemicals people may be exposed to.

EPA believes that it is in everyone's interest to make this information available to the public. "Public" here includes industry, state governments, community groups, environmental groups, and of course, public citizens. Access to information is the best way to ensure everyone has the opportunity to evaluate and reduce environmental and health risks.

To make this information accessible, the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT) within EPA provides a variety of information services and products. These include call-in hotlines, publications, videos, diskettes with data, CD-ROMs, and access to on-line databases.

The first edition of "Chemicals in the Environment : Public Access Information" provides information on a number of major OPPT products and services that reflect the scope of our programs. We hope to reach a wide audience to let you know what information products are available, what they can do for you, and how to get them.

The articles included in the first issue cover such topics as EPA's new chemicals program (which describes how EPA evaluates newly discovered chemicals for possible health effects); information sources for lead and asbestos; the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI); the OPPT Chemical Fact Sheets; the Pollution Prevention Information Clearinghouse; and industry health and safety studies which are submitted to EPA under the ToXic Substances Control Act.

The files are accessible on the EPA Gopher Server. You can also request a paper copy by calling the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Hotline - (202) 554-1404; the EPA Assistance Information Service Hotline - (202) 554-0551; the EPA Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics - (202) 554-5603; or the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA) and Superfund Hotline - (800) 535-0202.

Source: GOVDOC-L, August 29, 1995.


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