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Open Letter to GPO regarding the Regional Discard Policy

A group of government information librarians have written an open letter to the GPO Superintendent of Documents asking questions regarding the implementation of the new regional discard policy. Below is the text of the letter. We will also post GPO’s answers to these important questions here on FGI.

Dear Superintendent of Documents Mary Alice Baish, (cc Depository Library Councilors and signatories of this open letter),

We the undersigned write to you as engaged librarians. As GPO goes into a test phase for the new Regional Discard Policy, there are a host of questions that will need answers both in order to implement the policy and in order to evaluate its effects and effectiveness.

We are hoping that GPO will commit to open and transparent implementation procedures during the test phase.

With this in mind, we are sending this open letter to pose a few basic questions that we hope will help this process. We plan to publish this open letter as well as GPO’s response on Free Government Information (FGI), but we hope that GPO will also post the information on FDLP.gov and provide a space there for other interested parties to make suggestions, ask questions, and get answers about the policy.

We begin with questions about how GPO defines some of its own requirements. We follow those with more specific questions about one of the series slated for use during the testing phase: the “GAO Reports and Comptroller General Decisions.” (We chose the title/series “GAO Reports and Comptroller General Decisions” because it is a relatively small and well defined collection and is easily browsed on FDsys. There is a description of the collection on FDsys here. There is a list of the items in the collection here.)

GPO has said that, to be eligible for discard, a title must have been retained by the regional for seven years, and that a digital copy must be “available on GPO’s Federal Digital System in a format that meets the standards of the Superintendent of Documents as authentic with the digital signature of the Superintendent of Documents.”

  1. What formats currently qualify as meeting the standards of the Superintendent of Documents? PDF? PDF/A? Other?
  2. If a title in FDsys only has a digital file in plain text format, will it be eligible for discard?
  3. Will digital copies have to be certified by the Superintendent of Documents with a PKI certificate issued by VeriSign?
  4. If not, what other form of “digital signature” will make a title eligible for discard?
  5. In the GAO/C-G collection on FDsys, will titles that have a plain text digital copy but no PDF copy be eligible for discard? (See for example: 1992 Bank Resolutions: FDIC Chose Methods Determined Least Costly, but Needs to Improve Process, GAO/GGD-94-107, May 10, 1994.)
  6. In the GAO/C-G collection on FDsys, will titles that have only a text file without full text be ineligible for discard? (See for example: 1992 Thrift Resolutions: RTC Policies and Practices Did Not Fully Comply With Least-Cost Provisions, GAO/GGD-94-110, June 17, 1994. “We regret that the full text of this item is presently unavailable.”)
  7. Have all the different kinds of reports listed within the GAO/C-G collection on FDsys been cataloged in the CGP and deposited in FDLP Regionals? (The kinds of reports include: Briefing Report, Chapter Report, Comptroller Decision, Comptroller General Decision, Correspondence, Fact Sheet, Letter Report, Oral Presentation, Other Written Product, Staff Study, and Testimony.)
  8. What is the overlap between deposited GAO/C-G titles and titles in the GAO/C-G collection on FDsys? For example, are there titles that were deposited that are not in FDsys?
  9. How many titles in the GAO/C-G collection on FDsys are in the qualifying format?
  10. How many titles in the GAO/C-G collection on FDsys currently have the appropriate “digital signature”?
  11. Does GPO intend to add digital signatures to documents in this collection that do not yet have them?
  12. How many of the titles in the GAO/C-G collection on FDsys are eligible for discard now?

We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience and continuing our discussions about the future of the FDLP.


Bernadine Abbott Hoduski

Susanne Caro

Tara Das, Government Information Librarian, Lehman Social Sciences Library, Columbia University Libraries

Martin Halbert, Dean of Libraries, University of North Texas Libraries

Stephen M. Hayes, Entrepreneurial Spirit Endowed Business Librarian, Dir., Thomas Mahaffey, Jr. Business Library, Acting Depository Librarian, former Depository Library Councilor

James A. Jacobs, Librarian Emeritus, University of California San Diego

James R. Jacobs, Government Information Librarian, Stanford University

Kris Kasianovitz, Government Information Librarian, Stanford University

Shari Laster

Lawrence R. (Larry) Meyer

Aimee Quinn

Suzanne Sears, Assistant Dean for Public Services, University of North Texas Libraries

Robbie Sittel, Government Information Librarian, Head, Eagle Commons Library, University of North Texas Libraries

Linda Spiro, Government Information Librarian, Rice University

Jill Vassilakos-Long, California State University San Bernardino

Sinai Wood, Associate Professor & Documents Librarian, Baylor University

CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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