NEWS FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY
DECEMBER 1997

Table of Contents

  1. Interagency Appeals Panel Votes to Declassify Agency Records
  2. Basic Tables: 1990 Demographic Profile Generator
  3. ALA and IRS Work Together to Strengthen BPOL Tax Forms Program
  4. GPO Access Page Redesigned
  5. Francis Buckley Named Superintendent of Documents
  6. Robert T. Mansker Named Deputy Public Printer
  7. Web Page Template for Government Information
  8. Fall DLC Meeting - Clearwater, FL October 20-23, 1997
  9. Census Developments : Sampling
  10. Senator's Laptop Request Sparks Debate
  11. Census Bureau Update
  12. STAT-USA: An Update from Ken Rodgers
  13. A Modern Noah's Ark (Humor)


(1) Interagency Appeals Panel Votes to Declassify Agency Records

The Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel (ISCAP), established by President Clinton's Executive Order 12958 on classification and declassification policy, has as one of its key functions to decide on appeals by parties whose requests for declassification of information under the "mandatory review" provisions of the Order have been denied by the classifying agency. When documents are denied under the Freedom of Information Act, however, the appeals are handled through the courts and not ISCAP. Deputy Assistant Attorney General Roslyn A. Mazer serves as the Chair of ISCAP which is made up of representatives from the Departments of State and Defense, the CIA, the National Security Council, and the National Archives.

Since it began meeting in May, 1996, ISCAP has considered 34 documents totaling approximately 5,000 pages. Of these ISCAP voted to declassify 27 documents in full, to declassify significant portions of six others, and to retain the agency's classification action fully for only one document. The declassified documents deal with such matters as: Secretary of State Kissinger's 1974 memorandum critiquing the Washington Energy Conference; a 1947 Air Technical Intelligence report describing in detail the military airplanes and missiles being developed by other nations; 1966-67 documents pertaining to trilateral negotiations among the United Kingdom, West Germany and the United States regarding the levels and costs of troop deployment in West Germany; and four annual National Security Council "progress reports" from the 1950s on United States policy towards South Asia.

Since there is a tendency for agency declassifies to keep records closed, ISCAP is serving an important role in providing review of classification decisions by government specialists outside the individual agencies. Although ISCAP hasn't dealt with many documents, its positions on releasing previously classified material will hopefully nudge agencies toward a more open posture.

Source: Page Putnam Miller, Director of the National Coordinating Committee for the Promotion of History ,pagem@capaccess.org, NCC Washington Update, Vol. 3, No. 35, August 21, 1997.

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(2) Basic Tables: 1990 Demographic Profile Generator

The Urban Information Center at the University of Missouri St. Louis has created a new tool for accessing "Basic Tables" demographic profile reports for most geographic areas anywhere in the U.S.

The new application can be accessed at the URL: http://www.oseda.missouri.edu/uic/uicapps/xtabs3.html.

The actual report-generator is a cgi-bin application that generates the reports (in user-specifiable plain text or HTML table format) on the fly. A help page provides lots of examples of using the xtabs3.html page, plus hints and examples of how web developers can easily code direct links to the cgi-bin URL--to provide access to these reports from their own web pages.

Hey, it may sound complicated, but its actually quite simple. If you enter the appropriate geographic codes, it spews out the data!

Source: Beverly Railsback, U. S. Documents Librarian, New Jersey State Library, P. O. Box 520, Trenton, N. J. 08625-0520; Phone: 609-292-6259; Fax: 609-984-7900; or E-mail:railsbac@njsl.tesc.edu; DOX_NJ, September 8, 1997.

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(3) ALA and IRS Work Together to Strengthen BPOL Tax Forms Program

More than 14,000 public and college libraries should have received their August Internal Revenue Service order blanks for tax forms for the upcoming tax season. The IRS Bank, Post Office, and Library Program (BPOL) allows the IRS to meet the needs of many taxpayers who might otherwise be inconvenienced in their search for tax forms and related materials.

Distributing Internal Revenue Service federal tax forms is an important public service for libraries to perform, especially in locations where there are no other readily available sources. Such governmental services performed by libraries are a powerful argument for funding from federal sources above the local level (see ALAWON, v6(39), May 21, 1997.

Order blanks were sent to those who participated in the BPOL program in the previous year, according to Diane Cichocki, IRS management analyst. This year the new and improved order blanks feature an all-in-one self-mailer in an easy to understand format. The order blanks recommend either a specific plan or a specific quantity based on previous form use. Libraries are encouraged to either increase or decrease the quantities needed.

BPOL order blanks are due back to the IRS by Friday, September 12. Libraries can join the BPOL program anytime during the year. For more information call the BPOL program at 1-800-829-2765 or Ed Hardy, BPOL coordinator at 309/662-2478. Tax forms will begin shipping in mid-November.

ALA's Public Libraries Association has an advisory committee which will meet during the ALA midwinter meeting to address this issue. To make comments or to participate in this process, contact Beth Bingham, chair of PLA's IRS Advisory Committee, at bbingham@ebr.lib.la.us or fax 504/231-3742.

Source: ALAWON, Vol. 6, No. 77, September 10, 1997.

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4) GPO Access Page Redesigned

The Superintendent of Documents has a new GPO Access homepage, redesigned to provide users with easier and more efficient access to our online resources. The new homepage has replaced the old one, and is available at the following URL: http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs . In addition to the homepage, several new "second level" pages have been developed that allow users to quickly and conveniently access our products and services. These pages are available as hot links from the new SuDocs page.

Please note that the new pages refer to Monthly Catalog as the "Catalog of U.S. Government Publications" and refer to the PRF as the "Sales Product Catalog (SPC)." The SPC will contain all of the information previously found in the PRF; this is the master sales record. Once GPO's Integrated Processing System (IPS) is fully implemented, two specialized versions of the SPC will be available via GPO Access in addition to the master sales record. The "domestic" version of the SPC will be targeted to domestic customers and will not contain international prices and mailing options. The "international" version will be targeted to customers outside of the U.S. and will contain the international prices and mailing options.

The changes to the GPO Access homepage and the creation of our other new pages was a direct result of the valuable feedback we received from our Focus group sessions conducted with the depository community and others, as well as comments submitted to the GPO Access User Support Team. We welcome and encourage any additional suggestions that you may have for the improvement of our services, and thank you for the recommendations that assisted us in this redesign.

If you have any questions regarding GPO Access or how to find resources from the new homepage, please contact the GPO Access User Support Team by e-mail at gpoaccess@gpo.gov ; by telephone at 1-202-512-1530 or toll free at 1-888-293-6498 ; or by fax at 1-202-512-1262.

Source: Victoria A Ries, vries@gpo.gov, GOVDOC-L, October 17, 1997.

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5) Francis Buckley Named Superintendent of Documents

Public Printer Michael F. DiMario has announced his intention to appoint Mr. Francis J. Buckley, Jr., as Superintendent of Documents, with responsibility for the public distribution of millions of Government publications in both print and electronic formats. Buckley comes to his position from the Shaker Heights Public Library in Shaker Heights, Ohio, where he has served as Director since 1994. From 1968 to 1994, he was with the Detroit Public Library.

In naming Buckley as Superintendent of Documents, DiMario said, "Fran will bring to this position strong management skills and a lifelong commitment to ensuring public access to Federal Government information. As Superintendent of Documents, he will be completely dedicated to providing comprehensive and equitable public access to Government information, which has become so important in the daily lives of all Americans."

Buckley earned his bachelor's degree and his master's degree in library science from the University of Michigan. He is a member of the Beta Phi Mu International Library Science Honor Society. After service in the Army, including duty in Vietnam, he joined the staff of the Detroit Public Library, where he rose from reference librarian and documents specialist to associate director for public services.

Buckley has been an active member of the American Library Association (ALA) since 1974, serving several terms on the ALA Council and chairing a number of important ALA committees, including the Government Documents Round Table, the Ad Hoc Committee to Form a Coalition on Government Information, and the Lippincott Award Jury. He has served on the ALA's Legislation Committee and chaired its Subcommittee on Government Information. He has served on the ALA's Coordinating Committee on Access to Information and the Special Committee on Freedom and Equality of Access to Information. Buckley has also been active in the Special Libraries Association, the Michigan Library Association, the Government Documents Round Table of Michigan, the Michigan Library Consortium, the Southeast Michigan League of Libraries, and the Ohio Library Council. He is on the board of trustees of the Cleveland Area Metropolitan Library System, and served on the board of trustees of the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC).

For the past 20 years, Buckley has written and spoken extensively on the importance of public access to Government information. In the late 1970's, he was a member of the Ad Hoc Advisory Committee on the Revision of Title 44, U.S.C., the law controlling the dissemination of Federal publications. He was a member and chair of the Depository Library Council to the Public Printer, which provides advice on GPO's Federal Depository Library Program. He currently chairs the Inter-Association Working Group on Government Information Policy, representing the ALA and other national library associations, which was formed to recommend and review proposed changes to Federal laws on information dissemination that are currently under consideration.

Buckley also has an active record of civic involvement. He served on the Literacy Advisory Committee of the Detroit Head Start Program, and was on the board of directors of the Detroit Literacy Coalition. He also served on the Research Committee of the United Community Services of Metropolitan Detroit, in addition to local community development and historic preservation organizations.

As a unit of the GPO, the Superintendent of Documents oversees a budget of more than $100 million and a workforce of approximately 700. This organization operates a large mail order program as well as 24 bookstores nationwide for public sales of Government publications, including the popular Consumer Information Center in Pueblo, CO. The Superintendent of Documents distributes millions of copies of Government documents to approximately 1,400 Federal depository libraries nationwide, where they are available for public use free of charge. The organization also maintains the award-winning GPO Access service on the Internet, at http://www.access.gpo.gov, which the public uses to retrieve an average of 5 million publications monthly.

Source: Marian W. MacGilvray, mmacGilvray@gpo.gov, GOVDOC-L, October 21, 1997.

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6) Robert T. Mansker Named Deputy Public Printer

Robert T. Mansker has been appointed Deputy Public Printer of the United States. The appointment to the second highest position within the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) was announced by Public Printer Michael F. DiMario and is effective September 23, 1997. Mansker comes to his position from the Joint Committee on Printing, where he has served as Minority Staff Director since the beginning of this year. From 1995 to 1997, he served as the Joint Committee's Deputy Director for the minority.

In naming him Deputy Public Printer, DiMario said, "Along with an extensive knowledge of congressional operations and procedures, Bob brings to his new position an acute sense of how Congress--its Members, committees, leadership, and staff--can best be served by GPO in this day of demanding legislative schedules and technological change. I am confident that he will do a great job for GPO and for our customers and our citizens."

A native of Texas, Mansker earned his bachelor's degree from The University of Texas. He holds a master's degree in personnel management/government and a doctorate in business administration/government and higher education, both from Texas A&M University. He was an associate professor of business administration and visiting lecturer at Texas A&M, where among other subjects he taught business law, personnel management, and labor relations.

Mansker has been active in government since the early 1960's. He served as administrative assistant to several members of the Texas House of Representatives. In 1979 he became press secretary to Congressman Martin Frost, a position he held for 14 years before becoming Staff Director for the House Administration Committee's Appeals Panel of the Office of Fair Employment Practices. In 1993, Frost appointed him Staff Director of the Accounts Subcommittee, Committee on House Administration. Congressman Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland named Mansker to the Joint Committee on Printing in 1995.

Source: Marian W. MacGilvray, mmacGilvray@gpo.gov, GOVDOC-L, October 1, 1997.

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7) Web Page Template for Government Information

Are you interested in providing your library users with convenient access to government information on the web, but find yourself too busy to search for the perfect sites and/or to design a web page? Check out the ALA GODORT Government Information Technology Committee's (GITCO) web page template, created by Cathy Hartman, University of North Texas Libraries, and Larry Schankman, Mansfield University.

To view the Template and Help pages, connect to: http://www.library.unt.edu/gpo/template/index.html.

The web page template has sections for:

This web page template has been developed to help the librarian at a small- or medium-sized library add a government information component to its web page with ease. With minimal alterations, this template can be added to a library's web page to provide access to publications of all levels of government. Links to key sources of government information have been selected, and only stable sites were chosen in order to reduce the amount of maintenance required to keep the page current. The accompanying Help/Readme page offers hints and tips for the novice that allow easy alteration of the Template. Sections included are: For comments or questions, contact Cathy Hartman (E-Mail: chartman@library.unt.edu or Phone: (940) 565-2870).

Source: Ridley Kessler, University of North Carolina, FLADOCS, October 30, 1997.

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8) Fall DLC Meeting - Clearwater, FL October 20-23, 1997

Those of you who opted to skip the Fall 97 Council meeting missed out on a wonderful location. We were right on the beach with our own Tiki Bar, pool, and playful dolphins. Oh yes, the meetings were wonderful too!

As has become standard practice, the first day began with a morning of updates, starting with Public Printer MICHAEL DIMARIO. He first reported on recent appointments within GPO. It is his intention to appoint Francis Buckley as the next Superintendent of Documents to fill the vacancy resulting from Wayne Kelley's recent retirement. With all the activities currently underway involving the Superintendent of Documents, Dimario wanted someone who could be a spokesperson for public access, someone with high credibility with Congress and the White House, and he felt that Buckley's experience fit the bill. In talking about the position, Dimario praised both Wayne Kelley and Jay Young for their outstanding work at GPO. Dimario expects Jay and Fran to work as a team that will lead the organization into the future - and Dimario does believe that GPO and the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) will have a significant future.

In addition, Dimario has appointed Bob Mansker as Deputy Public Printer. Mansker has been a staffer in Congress for some 20 years, most recently on the minority staff of the JCP. He has been working on the proposed GPO reform legislation and Dimario expects Mansker to continue to promote the best interests of the program on the hill. Another appointment to round out the team is Andrew Sherman as Director of Congressional and Public Affairs. Sherman is a long time career person who has played a significant role in the legislative process, and drafts most of GPO's proposals and issues papers.

While GPO did receive full funding for the FDLP from Congress, some caveats were added to the appropriations bill. $1.5 million of GPO's revolving fund is to be available to GAO to do management studies (by outside contractors) of certain programs within GPO. The four areas specified are: Office of Superintendent of Documents (including FDLP), production department, procurement services, and financial management services. GPO is also undergoing a financial audit that is separate from the management studies. This is an annual requirement that was put into law a couple years ago.

In terms of legislation, Dimario reported that despite promises of a draft piece of legislation, nothing has been introduced, nor has anything been fully endorsed by both parties in both houses. The AFL-CIO recently passed a resolution that pertains to this reform legislation that has not come out. The resolution criticizes that labor had not been given the opportunity to participate in the drafting of that legislation.

Dimario concluded by saying that he thinks the partnership between GPO and the depository libraries continues to be one of the great governmental programs that the American public benefits from and we need to publicize it collectively. We as a group have the ability to advance the program but we need to have our voices heard. We have got to get out there and talk about the program.

JAY YOUNG, Library Programs Service (LPS) Director, introduced Vicki Barber, the new Chief of the Depository Distribution Division. Her 42 employees are responsible for the distribution of all paper, and tangible electronic products, as well as a small number of microfiche shipments to depository libraries. She is also tasked with the fulfillment of claims which she recently decided she could handle better than a contractor and brought that back in-house.

While Vicki and her staff work with tangible depository products, still primarily, that stuff called paper, LPS is aware of the concern that has been raised in the depository community about how far and how fast the electronic transition will be moving, more specifically, will GPO be replacing paper when an electronic version is available? As a partial response, Young shared a quote from a recent Library Journal article. William Miller, president of the Association of College and Research Libraries, advocates a realistic perspective, saying, "All information is not yet electronic and probably never will be; electronic information will not be less expensive than current printed information; and libraries--both physical and virtual--will continue to be needed, along with the professionals who run them."

LPS plans to take a realistic perspective as well and continue the practice that when the publishing agency produces a title in paper and it is available to GPO in paper, they will ride it for library distribution even if an alternative electronic version is available. Under law this is what GPO is authorized to do and they will continue in this manner until Congress provides another direction. YOUNG believes the transition should proceed based on the actions of the publishing agencies.

LPS will continue to mine the Internet for digital publications to which they can point and add to their Pathway services. However, if there is a paper product, they will not be treating the electronic version as a replacement, as long as the paper product was produced through GPO or the agency provides copies.

For a number of years, the most practical solution to the problem of "fugitive documents" was to obtain a single copy of a publication and convert it to microfiche. Today, the availability of many information products from Government Internet sites offers another solution.

LPS has developed a list of some 100 microfiche titles to be replaced by Internet-accessible electronic products in the coming year. This list appears in the October 15 issue of Administrative Notes to advise the library community, and to provide an opportunity to advise LPS if that action would have a negative impact on serving the public.

LPS is working with the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) on a pilot project that will enable depositories to have free online access to scientific and technical documents that are currently available in electronic image format from the NTIS collection. NTIS has been working with UC-Davis on a "pre-pilot pilot" to determine what bugs there might be in the system before adding more libraries. At this point, NTIS has indicated that it is ready to work with an additional library, to be added this fall, and then add another four to six libraries in the first half of 1998. Eventually the intent is to include up to 20 libraries in the pilot.

As a result of negotiations among the Joint Committee on Printing (JCP), the Public Printer, the National Cancer Institute, and Oxford University Press, and spearheaded by Wayne Kelley, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute is once again a depository item. Sufficient copies of the journal have been provided by Oxford University Press to ensure that there is no gap in the collection. The October 15 issue of Administrative Notes contains copyright information you should be aware of about the Journal.

With regard to the Sales Program, Young announced that they are nearing the unveiling of the Integrated Processing System (IPS), which has been in the works for many years. This is the replacement of over 20 mainframe legacy systems, dating back to 1970, with off the shelf, but significantly modified, integrated software. This several million dollar system is scheduled to go live on November 17, 1997. While IPS should greatly improve customer service and document delivery, implementation is not going to be either an easy or a smooth process. Some disruption in order processing functions is expected as the new system is installed and tested. There will be no parallel system running. GPO's inventory and subscriber data, which is now being readied for conversion, must be cut over in one action from the mainframe to the new server with updates in the new system beginning immediately. IPS will affect not just systems, but also people, primarily those handling telephone and mail orders and all other kinds of customer service. Young expects that on cutover day and for sometime afterward, things will be very confused and probably downright "ugly." But they will get through it and provide greatly improved service.

Shortly after the activation of IPS, the Publications Reference File (PRF) will be replaced by the Sales Product Catalog (SPC). The Sales Product Catalog will be a master file for "information professionals" and for GPO's internal use, which will contain all of the information previously found on the PRF. The SPC as well as two specialized versions of the catalog (SPC Domestic and SPC International) will be available on GPO Access. Another change is that GPO will no longer offer a microfiche version. GPO will have two years of records available and Sales staff is studying the feasibility of producing a CD-ROM for out-of-print documents. Lastly, the new system will no longer use the long 12 digit stock number for ordering, but instead use a new six digit stock keeping unit or SKU. However, the old stock number can be translated by IPS so GPO can continue to accept orders using it.

Young did ask for our help - when a product is made available only in electronic format by a federal agency, but there could still be a market for it in paper, please let him know so that GPO can consider obtaining the source files from the agency and republishing in paper.

Young concluded by mentioning the Interagency Agreement that GPO entered into with the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science (NCLIS) to conduct an "Assessment of Electronic Government Information Products." This assessment is meant to gain information about agency practices and plans in terms of electronic publishing, particularly concerning medium and format standards. In developing the Statement of Work, GPO has realized that they need to change their use of the term "format." Format has been used to mean paper, microfiche, CD-ROM, electronic online, etc., but those are really the media or medium, whereas format is the arrangement of the information on the medium.

BOB WILLARD, NCLIS, gave an update on the efforts of NCLIS to work with GPO and the depository library community in assessing the standards we use for electronic products. He reviewed the history of this effort - which really came from 2 different developments. NCLIS, through a contract with the Computer Sciences and Technology Board of the National Research Council, has produced a two-part document. Part one is called the framework which is essentially a high level discussion and a series of questions that anyone wanting to get their arms around and understand the issue would have to have the answers to. Part two is the Statement of Work (SOW) which directs the contractor to do a survey of existing products that are targeted for transition to electronic information. Woody Horton, an information consultant brought on board by NCLIS, put the draft SOW in final form that is currently awaiting JCP approval. Once that approval is given, NCLIS will hire a contractor who will spend 3-6 months interacting with the survey and agencies, which will result in an analytical report that will say here is what is happening right now and what its implications are for the near future. A third part, which is simply conceptual right now and has no funds for it, is taking that data and looking at the questions in framework document and trying to answer them. NCLIS has made a commitment that either through their own programmatic funds or through tin-cupping they will see that this third part get done.

GIL BALDWIN, Library Division Chief (LPS), began by noting that this past year marked the beginning of partnerships and agreements between GPO, other Government agencies, and depository libraries, for making available, and permanently storing certain electronic Government products. These initial projects have built the foundation on which future partnerships will be based. Some other 1997 highlights include:

  • permanent access initiatives, including developing the "collection management" concept for GPO Access and the FDLP Electronic Collection;
  • expanded outreach activities, including sponsoring the Regional Librarians Conference;
  • developing new GPO Access Web applications and services for depository librarians, such as adding the Council Web pages to the FDLP Administration Web page and creating the "Core Documents of U.S. Democracy: An Electronic Collection;"
  • using the Web to conduct the Biennial Survey and the Item Selection Update Cycle;
  • developing the Item Lister, putting up the electronic version of the Shipping List, and partnering with the creators of the Shipping List label service;
  • raising awareness of the serious issues surrounding the privatization of important Government information products, and the copyright-like restrictions that often accompany these deals; and,
  • less visible outside GPO, the first general renovation of LPS' office space since they moved to the main GPO building in 1985.

    One of the key developments of FY 1997 is the "collection management" concept for GPO Access, which establishes that GPO will manage the various electronic Government information products made permanently accessible via GPO Access as a library-like collection. Permanent public access will be provided under the authority of the Government Printing Office Electronic Information Access Enhancement Act of 1993 (Public Law 103-40), and planning for GPO Access storage will be done in the context of a GPO Collection Management Plan. GPO planning efforts recognize that GPO is building the FDLP Electronic Collection using GPO resources, but also coordinating permanent access through a distributed networked system. This Collection consists of remotely accessible electronic Government information products, including core legislative and regulatory GPO Access products which will reside permanently on GPO servers, and other products either maintained by GPO or by other institutions with which GPO has established formal agreements.

    One of the manifestations of the collection concept is a digital collection on GPO Access known as the "Core Documents of U.S. Democracy: An Electronic Collection." This Web-based collection went live in late June. It gives users direct online access to the basic Federal Government documents that define our democratic society. BALDWIN welcomes any suggestions for expanding this collection.

    Since 1991, GPO has been participating in the Supreme Court's Project Hermes. Under this project, the Court electronically distributed its orders and opinions in ASCII and WordPerfect format which GPO has made available to the public through the Federal Bulletin Board. Beginning this month, the Supreme Court will send its files in ASCII and Adobe Portable Documents Format (PDF). This change in format has GPO discussing providing both a searchable database of Supreme Courts orders and opinions, covering the period beginning in 1991, and well as building a browseable index for them.

    Identifying and reviewing products available from Government Internet sites has expanded LPS' traditional acquisitions activities and led to some realignment of our resources. Right now, LPS has more people devoted to discovering and evaluating Government information on the Internet and building locator tools for the that content than we assign to obtaining copies of tangible products produced at or through GPO. Of course, chasing fugitive products, which are often published without regard to GPO or the FDLP, is still extremely time-consuming. In fact, with the added complications of software licensing, copyright-like restrictions, and Government and private sectors arrangements, obtaining copies of fugitive titles is more problematic than ever.

    Some success areas with content for the Program: By September 1997, the Browse Electronic Titles page had over 2,100 electronic product titles listed on the page. These products are classified and the information is sent to the Cataloging Branch, which provides cataloging records for these products in the Monthly Catalog. Weekly updates, performed each Monday, add an average of over 30 titles a week to the Browse Electronics Title page.

    LPS is currently negotiating with National Imagery and Mapping Administration (NIMA, formerly the Defense Mapping Agency, DMA) to revise the existing Interagency Agreement to bring the NIMA products back into GPO for distribution directly from LPS. This is being undertaken at this time because of a shift in distribution facilities from NIMA to the Defense Logistics Agency in Richmond, VA.

    The number of tangible electronic products, a category that is virtually all CD-ROM titles, continues to grow in the FDLP. By the end of FY 1997 we shipped about 735 CD-ROM titles. New CD-ROM products include USAPat Facsimile Images of United States Patents, FBIS on CD-ROM, the Federal Acquisition Regulation CD-ROM, and the World FactBook on CD-ROM.

    Two online services continue to be quite popular with the Federal depository libraries. 812 libraries are currently registered to access the STAT-USA databases via the World Wide Web. And a new online service, CenStats, also became available for depository access at no charge to the library. Beginning in March, patrons are able to access the paid CenStats database from workstations in the depository libraries. Census did not limit access to the database to one user at a time, but allows multiple users as long as the patron is located in the library when accessing the database. 882 depositories have signed up for CenStats access.

    For FY 1997, the approved Superintendent of Documents Salaries and Expenses Appropriation was $1.23 million less than we requested. House Report 104-657, dated July 8, 1996, explained that "a reduction of $1.2 million will be possible by converting most serial sets to CD-ROM. Regional depositories, plus one depository in each state without a designated regional ... will continue to receive paper copies of the serial set." The Report described the distribution of the bound Serial Set as "duplicative since the individual paper copies of these documents are now distributed to libraries simultaneously with their first printings".

    This position was recently reaffirmed in a letter from Senator John Warner, Chairman of the Joint Committee on Printing (JCP), in his September 29, 1997, response to a proposal from GODORT that GPO make available Serial Set title pages and tables of contents for the various volumes published. Senator Warner noted that beginning with the 105th Congress, distribution of the bound Serial Set will be limited to regional depository libraries and one library in each state that does not have a regional depository library. Senator Warner also asked that GPO make the Serial Set title pages and contents available to all requesting Depository Libraries.

  • So where does that leave us with serial set products? Distribution of the slip House and Senate reports and documents which make up the Serial Set will continue. All depositories which selected the bound Serial Set will receive it until the 104th Congress volumes are completed. Distribution of the mylar dividers which help organize the microfiche into Serial Set order will continue. Beginning with the 105th Congress GPO will produce and distribute Serial Set volume title pages and tables of contents for selecting libraries. Also beginning with the 105th Congress, in accordance with Congressional direction, distribution of the bound Serial Set will be limited to the regional depositories, plus one library in each without a regional within its boundaries.
  • There are several technical issues to overcome before a complete, useful, and cost-effective CD-ROM Serial Set can be produced. The JCP has directed GPO to "work with the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House, as well as the ongoing SGML working group, to facilitate Congress' maximum utilization of electronic creation and transfer of information. Such efforts will make possible a complete electronic version of the Congressional serial set in the near future." Until that is accomplished, House and Senate Reports and Documents can be found on GPO Access. A growing number of Reports and Documents from the 104th and 105th Congress are available on GPO Access.

    LPS expects to receive depository copies of the U.S. Industry and Trade Outlook '98 (formerly known as the U.S. Industrial Outlook), very soon. NTIS has made arrangements for copies to be sent to GPO for distribution to the depository libraries. Another highly anticipated new product is the North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) manual, which will replace the Standard Industrial Code manual. Depository copies will also be provided for this title.

    This past fiscal year, the Cataloging Branch processed more than 25,000 titles, and GPO has a backlog of approximately 4,600 titles, most of which is microfiche, particularly individual issues of serials. Two librarians have been hired for the Cataloging Branch, and these new personnel will devote much of their effort to cataloging Internet resources and other locator service initiatives.

    The Web site edition of the Monthly Catalog contains some 87,000 records cataloged since 1994. Improvements to data processing within GPO resulted in achieving the goal of publishing GPO web site Monthly Catalog records within 24 hours after production in OCLC. The GPO web site edition of the Monthly Catalog now represents a "daily catalog" of bibliographic records.

    The 2,300 Web site records with URLs should provide clickable access to product content on the Internet. Concern about the long-term accuracy of URLs in all of our locator services had led GPO to use OCLC's Persistent Uniform Resource Locators (PURLs) to maintain the utility of these links. GPO's consideration of the PURL resolver software includes testing current PURLs software in GPO's environment for GPO applications and continued consultation with OCLC on the development of a basic links checking function and other enhancements. Once available, GPO anticipates using enhanced PURLs resolver software as part of their cataloging and locator services. GPO recognizes that PURLs may not be the ultimate standard for persistent naming, but it appears to be the best alternative for the near-term. They expect that any future developments would be backwardly compatible with PURLs. GPO is also monitoring the situation with the Universal Resource Name, or "handle" solution being developed by CNRI, but they feel that it is in the best interests of their Web site and cataloging records users to proceed with PURLs at this time.

    In FY 1997, the Depository Services Staff (DSS) inspected 55 depository libraries. In addition, self-studies submitted by 125 depositories were evaluated and brief reports summarizing the strengths and weaknesses of the depository operation were sent to the libraries.

    Two additional inspectors, Thomas Oertel, from the University of Utah Law Library, and Cynthia Etkin, from Western Kentucky University, joined GPO in September 1997, and both are going through inspection training and a new LPS internal orientation program.

    Two libraries were designated depositories in FY 1997, while 12 libraries voluntarily relinquished their depository status. Only two libraries cited lack of electronic equipment as the reason for terminating status. At year's end there were 1,368 libraries in the FDLP, a reduction of ten from one year earlier.

    The depository library self-study was used during 1997 and began with 175 libraries that were last inspected in 1989 and 1990. Throughout 1997, these reports were evaluated to determine whether an on-site inspection was required. In July 1997, 150 libraries last inspected in 1990 and 1991 were notified to submit the mandatory self-study by October 15, 1997. After analysis, a portion of the depository operations will be inspected in 1998. The adoption of the self-study as an evaluation tool has permitted some resources devoted to periodic inspections to be reallocated to FDLP system support and related services for depository libraries.

    The Council Working Group on Statistical Measurement worked with LPS to develop the 1997 Biennial Survey of Depository Libraries questionnaire. In August and September, a Web application was developed and tested. The new application replaced the Teleform fax software used for tabulating the 1995 survey data. The Biennial Survey is literally in the mail to depository libraries with a December 1 due date for responses. As part of the Biennial Survey, depository librarians will be able to review and submit updates to their depository name and address PROFILE information.

    The first Regional Librarians Conference was held this past August in Minneapolis. The topics, conducted by regional librarians, focused on "best practices," including state plans, establishing in-state listservs, producing results with little money, and GIS management. The conference strengthened the ability of regionals to provide services to their selectives and to improve their own performance. GPO anticipates additional regionals-oriented activities taking place in conjunction with future Council meetings and spring Conferences to follow up on the activities which took place in Minnesota.

    Baldwin concluded with a demonstration of askLPS, a Web-based inquiry and notification module that will be part of the FDLP Administration home page. Currently, the prototype has Answers - which includes "Browse Answers" and "Announcements;" Questions - which includes "Contacts" and "Inquiry Form;" and Other - "Library Profile."

    TC EVANS, OEIDS, stated that GPO continues to work on improving response time on GPO Access. Usage statistics indicate that their efforts have been successful, but they also make it clear that GPO will have more work ahead as usage continues to grow. September was the busiest month ever for GPO Access with over 6.5 million documents downloaded from their databases. This growth occurred in their busiest applications, the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations, which indicates that users are able to get in and retrieve what they need. Over 2.3 million documents were downloaded from the Federal Register and almost two million from the Code of Federal Regulations.

    New redesigned GPO Access Web pages were released October 17, 1997. GPO's redesign efforts focused on creating a home page that would afford a new user with a clear and easy path to the GPO Access services that they need, while still providing a useful starting point for a frequent user. This two-pronged goal was met by using shorter links, more commonly recognizable language. On the left side there are quick jumps to the most popular applications. On the right side, a user is presented with easy to follow links to GPO Access services.

    Evans concluded by outlining a number of projects currently underway:

    GEORGE BARNUM, Electronic Transition Staff (ETS), concluded the morning session by giving a thumb nail sketch of the activities of ETS - much of which has already been reported on, such as additions to the FDLP Administration Page, growth in Browse Title, Browse Topics, and Pathway Indexer.

    The University of North Texas recently became GPO's second content partner, housing the electronic research collection of the Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations. To view their site, click http://www.library.unt.edu/gpo/acir/acir.html.

    A pilot project to provide ERIC documents online is scheduled to begin January 1998. GPO will continue to distribute microfiche as well. GPO hopes this pilot project will shed some light on what it is like to disseminate a large demand collection electronically. Another large project in the works is to ensure that DOE/OSTI reports are elelctronically accessible to depositories. This interagency agreement will allow depository libraries no-fee access to the 12,000-15,000 public domain reports produced annually by OSTI via a GPO Access link to the DOE/OSTI "Information Bridge" Web site.

    In addition to this update session, there were other programs and discussions. Mary Mallory, substituting for Barbara Levergood, gave a report on the activities of the CD-ROM Documentation Project being done by the Government Information Technology Committee of the Government Documents Round Table. Open discussion sessions were conducted on: Service Guidelines for Electronic Information; Managing GPO's Permanent Online Collection; GPO Access Gateways; Statistical Measurement and the Biennial Survey; the Accessment of Electronic Government Information Products Statement of Work; State Plans and Service Responsibilities of Regionals. Demonstrations were held of Pathway Services, OpenText Software for GPO Access, and DOSFAN, as well as focus groups on GPO Access. Lastly, Eric Peterson, Staff Director of the JCP, gave an update on what is happening with the Title 44 Revision. At this point in time, don't expect to see a bill introduced until early 1998.

    As always, please feel free to direct your questions to me.

    Source: Susan E. Tulis, University of Virginia, Law School Library, 580 Massie Road, Charlottesville, VA 22903; E-mail: set7c@virginia.edu
    ; Phone: (804) 924-3504; Fax: 804/982-2232. GOVDOC-L, October 27, 1997.

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    9) Census Developments : Sampling

    Once again, Congress will take up the contentious issue of sampling for the 2000 census. The fight is over how to count -- really, whether to count -- that small percentage of Americans who elude traditional census-taking methods.

    The 1990 census missed 1.8% of the population, which doesn't sound like much until you do the arithmetic: That's 4.5 million people, or roughly the population of southeastern Michigan. In 2000, the undercount could get worse.

    The gurus of demography say sampling is a valid way to correct the undercount. It involves additional surveys of households that go uncounted the first time around, and then comparisons with a nationwide sample of Americans. Republicans, though, hate sampling. They're afraid all those uncounted bodies are Democrats. More precisely, they fear a more accurate count in the central cities will cost them seats when the next redistricting is done.

    This week in Congress, a conference committee will try to reconcile two bills that contain funding for the census. The House version prohibits sampling, unless an expedited judicial review finds it constitutional. But that's a flimflam. Since there is no way the courts could rule in time for preparations for the 2000 census, the House bill effectiely kills sampling -- and the integrity of the census.

    The Senate version tells the Census Bureau not to do anything irrevocable about sampling, but allows planning for it to proceed. For the time being, the Senate version is the one that should prevail. If it doesn't, President Clinton should veto the whole bad business, as he did once before.

    Source: Detroit Free Press, October 20, 1997, p.12A.

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    10) Senator's Laptop Request Sparks Debate

    Tired of scribbling notes in longhand, freshman Sen. Michael Enzi, R-Wyo., wondered if he could bring his laptop computer with him to the Senate floor.

    That simple query has touched off a boisterous debate about how technology could threaten the august body, sanctified by the Constitution to uphold the 18th-Century ideals of consensus building, discourse, and reflection.

    Congressional hearings will be convened on the matter; a 47-page report has been issued; and members of the nation's most powerful deliberative body are weighing in:

    Though laptops abound in airplanes, coffee shops, and even public parks, Enzi is getting a firsthand civics lesson in the Senate's reluctance to meddle with legisltive protocol anchored in its 200-year-old heritage.

    Long leery of technology, the Senate has banned photographers' cameras, cell phones, and beepers. Don't even ask about Game Boys. The body bends the rules once in a while -- during budget negotiations, electronic calculators are allowed.

    "I want to be very careful the traditions aren't disturbed," stresses Enzi, who admits to being awestruck by the Senate's history. He has lingered after the chamber has closed, sitting at the desks of his distinguished past colleagues and straining to hear the echoes of their momentous debates.

    But, he says crisply, "It seems to be a natural transition from the quill pen to the ballpoint pen to computers."

    Enzi, 53, dabbled in computer courses in college. He used computers to track inventory when he owned two shoe stores, to crunch numbers when he worked as an accountant and to take notes as he listened to debates while serving inthe Wyoming Legislature.

    "It's an essential tool for me," he says.

    A few members share his affinity for technology, but many others worry that the electronic gadget might subvert the lofty tenets on which the nation's government was founded.

    How, for example, might they interfere with Thomas Jefferson's 1801 decree that members may not even "read any printed paper" when another was speaking.

    Could many senators resist the temptation to respond to E-mail, schedule appointments, finish reports, peruse documents, and play solitaire?

    "The Senate Floor is a sanctuary for debate and person-to-person exchanges," argues Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Gregory Casey, the rules-enforcer who spent three months reporting on the anticipated effects of computers in the chamber.

    "If senators are preoccupied with their laptops, there will be even less chance of persuading colleagues through dialogue and discussion or sparking a genuine debate to pursue complex issues." Casey's report supports using laptops as extensions of yellow-lined legal pads. But he rules out on-line, networked systems such as the Internet. Not only would on-line technology require new wiring that could damage the 19th-Century mahogany desks, it could prompt sticky questions about security and on-line lobbying.

    Though laptops are practical, Casey warns: "Senators on laptops are likely to have the equivalent of plugs in their ears."

    Perhaps the apprehension about computers is an admission that the Senate rarely witnesses the stirring speeches reminiscent of the days of Daniel Webster's and John Calhoun's eloquent debates over slavery. These days, the Senate floor is merely one of many scheduled stops as members rush in for votes sandwiched around committee hearings, appointments with contributors, and photo-ops with constituents.

    As a speaker drones on, many senators blatantly breach Jefferson's rules by skimming reports and whispering to aides, or, even worse, surreptitiously tallying to-do lists and solving crossword puzzles. Laptops might allow lawmakers to too visibly assuage their boredom.

    Enzi says his Compaq laptop -- with modem, microphone, CD-ROM, two-gigabyte hard drive, and 32 magabytes of RAM -- was invaluable while he was in the Wyoming legislature because he had to respond to constituent mail and keep up on legislation with no support staff to help.

    Though he has about 20 employees now, Enzi is still used to handling some things himself.

    And his press secretary, Coy Knobel, admits that staffers are hoping laptops get approved because "the senator's handwriting leaves something to be desired."

    The Senate Rules and Administration Committee tentatively plans to take up the matter next week. Committee members can decide the issue, or put it to a full Senate vote.

    Source: Elsa C. Arnett, Free Press Washington Staff, Detroit Free Press, October 22, 1997, p.5A, 9A.

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    11) Census Bureau Update

    Administration, Congress Reach Agreement on Census Provisions in Commerce Funding Bill
    Dress Rehearsal Will Evaluate A Sampling and No-Sampling Design; Oversight Board To Run Through 2001

    After frenzied negotiations throughout the weekend, the Administration and congressional Republican leaders reached agreement on most provisions in the Commerce Department funding bill related to the use of sampling in the 2000 census. Congress is expected to approve the Fiscal Year 1998 Commerce, Justice, State and The Judiciary Appropriations bill later this week and send it to the President for signature, before adjourning until late January. However, because the Census Bureau continues to operate under last year's funding level, the start of the 1998 Dress Rehearsal could be delayed.

    The exact level of funding for 2000 census activities in FY98 has not been worked out, but the Bureau is likely to receive an amount over the President's request. While House Speaker Newt Gingrich and the President also reportedly agreed in principle to guarantee additional full funding through February 1999, when evaluations of the Dress Rehearsal will be complete, congressional appropriators have not committed to that deal.

    Some provisions of the agreement described below may still be under discussion, but key elements of the deal that have emerged are as follows:

    The agreement provides for expedited court review of legal challenges to the use of sampling and statistical methods in the census. A Member of Congress, or any persons who believe their congressional districts might change due to sampling, can seek an injunction or a declaratory judgment against the use of such methods from a three-judge U.S. district court. A district court ruling could be appealed directly to the Supreme Court. The Speaker of the House also may file a lawsuit to prevent the use of sampling in the census, and would be represented by the House's General Counsel, who could contract with outside counsel. However, the Census Bureau could continue preparations for sampling in the 1998 Census Dress Rehearsal while the courts consider any challenges to the methods.

    The agreement also sets up an eight-member, unpaid Census Monitoring Board, with a $4 million annual budget, to monitor all aspects of census preparations and implementation. Four members will be appointed by congressional Republican leaders; the President will appoint four members, two of whom will be recommended by congressional Democratic leaders. The Board will have co-chairmen (one chosen from the Republican appointees and one from the Democratic appointees), each of whom can appoint an executive director and other staff. Former Census Bureau Directors may not be members of the Board. The Board, which will be housed at the Census Bureau, will operate through September 30, 2001.

    The Board may request any information from the Census Bureau that it needs to carry out its monitoring functions. Its reports to Congress will focus on the Bureau's efforts to achieve the most accurate counts possible at all geographic levels and to guard against political bias in its methodology. The Board also will review new uses of technology, address list compilation, outreach and promotion, field office structure, and hiring efforts. Interim reports to Congress are due by April 1, 1998; February 1 and April 1, 1999; and semi-annually thereafter, with the final report due by September 1, 2001.

    The Census Bureau also agreed to conduct its Dress Rehearsal in Columbia, South Carolina, and surrounding rural counties, using only traditional counting methods and no sampling (except to administer the 'long form'). It will conduct a quality-check survey at the Columbia site to measure the accuracy of the counts. The Dress Rehearsal in Sacramento and on the Menominee Indian Reservation in Wisconsin will include the uses of sampling previously planned by the Bureau. The decision to modify the Dress Rehearsal is not included in the funding bill provisions.

    The agreement contains several congressional findings regarding the purpose and goals of the census. The statement that the "sole constitutional purpose of the [census] is the apportionment of Representatives in Congress," while accurate on its face, could signal a concern on the part of some lawmakers about the continued collection of demographic, housing and economic data on the traditional census 'long form.' Another provision states that "statistical sampling ... poses the risk of an inaccurate, invalid, and unconstitutional census." At a press conference on Saturday, Congressional Census Co-Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) was joined by more than a dozen members of the Congressional Black and Hispanic Caucuses in asking the President not to accept an agreement that "stacked the deck" against sampling in the 2000 census.

    A provision of the agreement that continued to draw concern from congressional supporters of sampling, as well as some data users, would require the Census Bureau to release "simultaneously" its final census counts and the counts produced with additions or subtractions based on sampling and estimation, for all levels of geography.

    House Republicans also reportedly have decided to create a new census oversight subcommittee under the Government Reform and Oversight Committee. Currently, the Subcommittee on National Security, International Affairs, and Criminal Justice, chaired by Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-IL), is responsible for overseeing the census.

    Race and ethnicity update: Office of Management and Budget Statistical Policy Directive 15, revised on October 30, includes a change in the race categories that was not recommended by OMB's Interagency Task Force last July. The new Directive 15 splits the former 'Asian and Pacific Islander' category into two categories: 'Asian' and 'Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander'. There are now five race categories: White; Black or African American; American Indian or Alaska Native; Asian; and Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander. People answering the census or other Federal surveys may check one or more races. The final revisions to Directive 15 may be accessed electronically through OMB's web site, or through the Government Printing Office (GPO) web site: http://www.access.gpo.gov. Questions about the information contained in this News Alert may be directed to Terri Ann Lowenthal at (202) 434-8756 or, by e-mail, at TerriAnnL@aol.com. Please feel free to circulate this information to colleagues and other interested individuals.

    Source: Census News Alert from the State Data Center Listserve circulated by Linda Gage, November 10, 1997 and redistrbuted by Beverly Railsback, DOX-NJ, November 13, 1997.

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    12) STAT-USA Update : A Message From Ken Rodgers

    STAT-USA has been away from GOVDOC-L for quite some time. We have had some technical problems with our mail servers and have only recently reestablished communication with the group. I have been reviewing some older messages and would like to clarify a couple points that were made in the last month or two concerning our activities.

    1. Grace York, Cindi Wolff, and others commented on what appeared to be outrageous price increases for multi-user access to STAT-USA/Internet. The tone of their comments suggested that we were treating libraries exactly like businesses and ending any preferential treatment or value pricing for libraries.

      Let me reassure you that is not the case. Last year, we were forced to change our multi-user pricing charges to reflect ways business is conducted on the Internet. Our previous charge formulas just did not work. Those organizations that had a multi-user account with us that expired received a renewal notice from our automated billing system that did reflect very large increases. Unfortunately, we made an error and sent these very large notices to ALL multi-user accounts including depository libraries. This was an error that we should have caught. Should you receive a bill like this, please call Bob Wendling on 202-482-1431 to work on a resolution.

      Quite frankly, we have been hoping libraries would band together and gain even larger economies by creating consortium buys to our service. For example, we have made arrangements with the Virtual Library of Virginia (VIVA) to provide STAT-USA/Internet access to all public colleges and institutions of higher education throughout the State of Virginia. Moreover, private colleges in Virginia can also piggyback on the arrangement. We have discussed similar arrangements with other state library groups. It works out better for us administratively and is an even better financial arrangement for the participating colleges.

      I do get tired of reading on GOVDOC-L and hearing in other forums that we (STAT-USA) are just a bunch of money grubbers and really want to make the libraries pay, pay, pay. I have a very personal stake in this and have publicly made it a policy of STAT-USA that we have a good working relationship with the depository library community. Therefore, please call me, send me a fax or e-mail if you feel there is an issue that needs to be clarified.

    2. Some have commented on the nature of our new home page and do not like the more directed search approach we have introduced. I suggest you take a look at the end of either section of our site. You will see references to "Search the entire State of the Nation Library" or "Search the entire National Trade Data Bank Library". These options provide you with the same global search features as you have used in the current production version of STAT-USA/Internet. Our goal in designing the new site is to add functionality to the service without taking away any of the old features you may be accustomed to using. Moreover, we are actively demonstrating the new site at meetings throughout the U.S. we have been invited to attend or have set up ourselves. For example, Bob Wendling is demonstrating the new service to librarians in southern California almost as I am writing these words, and I will be attending and demonstrating the service during two sessions for Michigan librarians in Detroit on December 5th. Finally, we will be scheduling another STAT-USA training class in conjunction with the Depository Library Conference next April.
    Source: Ken Rogers, Director, STAT-USA, telephone: (202) 482-1405; fax: (202) 482-2164; e-mail: krogers@doc.gov, GOVDOC-L, November 19, 1997.

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    13) A Modern Noah's Ark (Humor)

    Here is the TRUE story of "The Flood" according to modern interpretation.

    And the Lord spoke to Noah and said: "In six months I'm going to make it rain until the whole earth is covered with water and all the evil people are destroyed. But I want to save a few good people, and two of every kind of living thing on the planet. I am ordering you to build Me an Ark," said the Lord.

    And in a flash of lightning He delivered the specifications for an Ark.

    "OK," said Noah, trembling in fear and fumbling with the blueprints.

    "Six months, and it starts to rain" thundered the Lord. "You'd better have my Ark completed, or learn how to swim for a very long time."

    And six months passed.

    The skies began to cloud up and rain began to fall. The Lord saw that Noah was sitting in his front yard, weeping. And there was no Ark.

    "Noah," shouted the Lord, "where is my Ark?" A lightning bolt crashed into the ground next to Noah, for emphasis.

    "Lord, please forgive me," begged Noah. "I did my best. But there were big problems.

    First I had to get a building permit for the Ark construction project, and your plans didn't meet Code. So I had to hire an engineer to redraw the plans.

    Then I got into a big fight over whether or not the Ark needed a fire sprinkler system.

    My neighbors objected claiming I was violating zoning by building the Ark in my front yard, so I had to get a variance from the city planning commission.

    "Then I had a big problem getting enough wood for the Ark because there was a ban on cutting trees to save the Spotted Owl. I had to convince U.S. Fish & Wildlife that I needed the wood to save the Owls. But they wouldn't let me catch any owls. So no owls.

    Then the carpenters formed a union and went out on strike. I had to negotiate a settlement with the National Labor Relations Board before anyone would pick up a saw or a hammer. Now we got 16 carpenters going on the boat, and still no owls.

    "Then I started gathering up the animals, and got sued by an animal rights group. They objected to me taking only two of each kind.

    Just when I got the suit dismissed, EPA notified me that I couldn't complete the Ark without filing an environmental impact statement on your proposed Flood. They didn't take kindly to the idea that they had no jurisdiction over the conduct of a Supreme Being.

    Then the Army Corps of Engineers wanted a map of the proposed new flood plain. I sent them a globe.

    "Right now I'm still trying to resolve a complaint from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over how many Croatians I'm supposed to hire, the IRS has seized all my assets claiming I'm trying to avoid paying taxes by leaving the country, and I just got a notice from the state about owing some kind of use tax.

    "I really don't think I can finish your Ark for at least another five years," Noah wailed.

    The sky began to clear. The sun began to shine. A rainbow arched across the sky. Noah looked up and smiled. "You mean you're not going to destroy the earth?" Noah asked, hopefully.

    "Wrong!" thundered the Lord. "But being Lord of the Universe has its advantages. I fully intend to smite the Earth, but with something far worse than a Flood. Something Man invented himself."

    "What's that?" asked Noah.

    There was a long pause, and then the Lord spaketh:

    "Government."

    Source: Jack Ralston, Government Documents Librarian, Fayetteville State University, Fayetteville, North Carolina; e-mail: ralston@lib1.uncfsu.edu.

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