Acting Public Printer Davita Vance-Cooks has responded to the letter by the group CASSANDRA about the recent report Rebooting the Government Printing Office: Keeping America Informed in the Digital Age by the National Association of Public Administration (NAPA). .
The report recommends that GPO should consider "cost recovery" for access to FDsys (See NAPA releases report on GPO).
The Response from Vance-Cooks says that GPO has "no intention of charging public users a fee to access content available through FDsys. GPO remains committed to no-fee access to FDsys for the public as part of our mission of Keeping America Informed."
This is, of course, good news, but we have to temper our enthusiasm with the realization that GPO's ability to meet its intentions will inevitably be dictated by Congress and its budget.
The complete response is attached below:
From a press release from GPO:
President Obama’s State Of The Union Address Available On Gpo’s Federal Digital System
The U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) makes President Barack Obama's State of the Union address available on GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys). The public can access the President’s address in the Congressional Record, which is the official publication of the U.S. Congress.
Direct link to address: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CREC-2013-02-12/html/CREC-2013-02-12-pt1-Pg...
The National Academy Of Public Administration has released its report on the Government Printing Office.
- Rebooting The Government Printing Office: Keeping America Informed in the Digital Age, A Report by a Panel of the National Academy Of Public Administration for the U.S. Congress, Congressional Research Service, and the Government Printing Office. National Academy Of Public Administration, Washington, DC (January 2013).
Congress mandated that the National Academy of Public Administration (the Academy) conduct a broad operational review of GPO. The Academy formed a five-member Panel of Fellows to conduct a ten-month study of the agency’s current role, its operations, and its future direction.
The report contains 27 finding and 15 recommendations. Depository libraries will be particularly interested in three findings:
- III-3: Preservation of the Legacy (Tangible) Government Collection
- III-4: Preservation of the Digital Government Collection
- III-5: Government Information Dissemination and Access
The report repeats many of the tropes about the digital government information that have become familiar over the years. Some of these bear repeating and others are more questionable.
Perhaps the most troubling suggestion in the report is GPO should consider "cost recovery" for access to FDsys:
Now may be the time for GPO to revisit charging the public for access to FDsys content. The Academy convened a forum of experts on printing and publishing where this topic was discussed extensively. Participants noted that technologies for online payments have progressed to the point that they cost very little to administer. Also, the public is becoming accustomed to paying fees for government services that used to be free (such as admittance to National Parks). Rather than charge a publication price, GPO could explore charging a small user fee to recoup the cost of providing access to government information on FDsys, or allowing users to view documents for free, and charging for document downloads. Forum participants also discussed the possibility of GPO exploring opportunities for repackaging files and content in different ways and making them available for sale to the public.
This model (as the report notes) was tried before with GPO Access and failed. We would argue that it failed not because the "technologies of online payments" were inadequate at the time, but because attempting to charge fees for information that was also available without fees was a fundamentally flawed approach. (We have written about this issue many times. See for example: Government Information in the Digital Age: The Once and Future Federal Depository Library Program and Privatization of GPO, Defunding of FDsys, and the Future of the FDLP.)
There is much more in the report and it deserves careful scrutiny.
Access to Court Opinions Expands. Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (January 31, 2013).
A pilot project giving the public free, text-searchable, online-access to court opinions now is available to all federal appellate, district and bankruptcy courts.
The Judicial Conference, the policy-making body of the Federal court system, approved national implementation of the project with the Government Printing Office, Federal Digital System (FDsys), which provides free access to publications from all three branches of federal government via the Internet. The pilot project pulls opinions nightly from courts’ Case Management/Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF) systems and sends them to the GPO, where they are processed and posted on the FDsys website. The functionality to transfer opinions to FDsys is included in the latest release of CM/ECF which is now available to all courts. Twenty-nine courts participated in the original pilot, and now, all courts may opt to participate in the program.
Access to judicial opinions through FDsys allows the Judiciary to make its work more easily available to the public. Collections are divided into appellate, district or bankruptcy court opinions and are text-searchable across opinions and across courts. FDsys also permits embedded animation and audio.
Presently, more than 600,000 opinions dating back to 2004 are available. Opinions from the pilot are already one of the most heavily used collections on FDsys, with millions of retrievals each month.
Enhancements to U.S. Statutes at Large on FDsys, FDLP.gov (16 January 2013).
The U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) recently enhanced the U.S. Statutes at Large collection on FDsys by adding descriptive metadata for public laws, private laws, concurrent resolutions, and presidential proclamations. For approximately 32,000 individual documents, the enhancements allow researchers improved searchability and retrieval by searching such metadata fields as title, SuDocs classification number, date, category, etc. The U.S. Statutes at Large collection includes volumes 65–115, covering the 82nd –107th Congresses, from 1951–2002.
The additional descriptive data was added by both manual and automatic processes. A team of GPO staff members from Library Services and Content Management (LSCM), including catalogers and automation librarians, added descriptive metadata for titles, public law numbers, and dates.
- Access the U.S. Statutes at Large collection on FDsys. [scroll down on linked page]
In 2011, GPO announced the release of digitized volumes of the U.S. Statutes at Large, in partnership with the Library of Congress. The U.S. Statutes at Large is the permanent collection of all laws and resolutions enacted during each session of Congress.
This is good news that GPO is going to go through the Trustworthy Digital Repositories (TDR) audit process for FDsys! The audit process looks at a repository to assure both its technical AND organizational infrastructure are in place for the long-term preservation of its digital objects and assets.
To my mind then, 2 of the most important pieces of the TDR audit process are "digital object management" -- including especially ingest of content -- AND "appropriate, formal succession plan, contingency plans, and/or escrow arrangements in place in case the repository ceases to operate or the governing or funding institution substantially changes its scope." I hope that the process looks at GPO's participation in the LOCKSS-USDOCS program as one of its key pieces in terms of "appropriate, formal succession plan, contingency plans, and/or escrow arrangements."
In January 2013, the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) will begin an audit process for GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys) to become a certified Trustworthy Digital Repository (TDR).
GPO completed an internal audit of FDsys in 2011. It is very imp>rtant to ensure FDsys stakeholders, including Federal depository libraries and the general public, that GPO’s official system of record provides permanent public access to Government information ingested into it. TDR certification from an external party offers such assurances, and other benefits as well.
The Center for Research Libraries (CRL) is conducting the audit. They will use metrics and criteria published by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Research Libraries Group (RLG), and CRL, which are the basis for ISO Standard 16363 for Trusted Digital Repositories.
During the audit CRL will examine elements such as organizational infrastructure, governance, policy framework, funding, digital object management, ingest, access, preservation, metadata, and technologies, technical infrastructure, and security. For more details about the elements and measures see Trustworthy Repositories Audit & Certification: Criteria and Checklist.
Completion of the CRL audit is expected by September 2013. GPO is the first Federal agency to seek external certification as a Trustworthy Digital Repository.
Read more about the audit and certification process from fdlp.gov.
One of the many bright spots of last week's Fall 2012 Depository Library Conference -- the notes and proceedings will soon be posted on the desktop -- was the announcement by the Government Printing Office (GPO) that GPO and US Department of the Treasury are partnering on a project to bring historic digitized Treasury publications onto the FDsys platform. This is a great step by GPO to provide a platform for Federal agencies to publish their historically relevant publications for better access to the public.
The U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) and the U.S. Department of Treasury have partnered on a pilot project to make historical digitized content from the Treasury Library available on GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys). Through the pilot project, Treasury Reporting Rates of Exchange, 1956-2005, which list the exchange rates of foreign currencies based on the dollar, are now available on FDsys. Over the next year, additional historical documents within the Treasury’s library collection will be made available on FDsys through this pilot project.
Mike Wash, currently the chief information officer of the National Archives and Record Administration and previously the Government Printing Office's chief technical officer, is interviewed in this podcast. He speaks with the Library of Congress's Mike Ashenfelder about Wash's work at the GPO and NARA, including the creation of a new GPO digital publication system, Fedsys, and leading NARA closer to the national goal of creating permanent public access to government content.
- Mike Wash, National Archives and Record Administration, Series: Conversations about Digital Preservation, (April, 2012)
Press Release from GPO:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 30, 2012
GPO SUPPORTS NATIONAL ARCHIVES ON PUBLIC ACCESS TO PRESIDENT KENNEDY ASSASSINATION TAPE RECORDING
First Audio Content on FDsys
WASHINGTON-The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is providing public access to the newly discovered audio tape recording of conversations between various individuals in Washington and Air Force One pilots and officials on board during the flight from Dallas to Andrews Air Force Base following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. The tape recording is available on the U.S. Government Printing Office's (GPO) Federal Digital System (FDsys). This is the first time audio content is available on the system, which is a one-stop site for authentic, published Government information. GPO and NARA have a long-standing collaborative relationship in publishing the Federal Register and recently worked together to provide the public with electronic access to the Nixon grand jury testimony.
Link to FDsys: www.fdsys.gov
This digitized version of the two hour and twenty-two minute recording was donated to the National Archives by the Raab Collection. The tapes were found among other papers and memorabilia of Army Gen. Chester "Ted" Clifton, Jr., who served as senior military aide to President Kennedy. The White House Communications Agency (WHCA) provided the tapes to Gen. Clifton. The conversations were captured by WHCA, which routed all phone calls and radio traffic. The recording includes references to new code names and incidents, among them are a private conversation by head of the Secret Service Jerry Behn about the disposition of the President's body; an expanded conversation about how to remove the body from the plane and where to take it; an urgent effort by an aide to Air Force Chief of Staff Curtis LeMay to reach General Clifton; and attempts to locate various Congressmen from Texas. For more information go to: http://www.archives.gov/
"GPO is pleased to provide our digital services in partnering with NARA to make this important historical find available to the public," said Acting Public Printer Davita Vance-Cooks. "This collection marks the first time GPO is providing audio content on the site. We look forward to continuing our long-standing relationship with NARA and other Federal agencies in providing digital access to authentic Government information through FDsys."
The Library of Congress Digital Preservation blog The Signal has a brief biographical portrait of Mike Wash who was chief technical officer at GPO and is now chief information officer of the National Archives and Record Administration.
- Digital Pioneer: Mike Wash, by Mike Ashenfelder, The Signal (December 21st, 2011).