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Urgent appeal on GPO funding votes

Free Government Information endorses this “urgent appeal” posted on Govdoc-L yesterday. Thanks to Kevin McClure for keeping all of us informed:

I want to draw your attention to important votes on GPO funding that are expected within days. And I want to make a particularly urgent appeal to those of you who live or work in a district represented by any of the members of the House or Senate Legislative Branch Subcommittees:

HOUSE

MAJORITY

Chair: Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-20th) Barbara Lee (CA-9th) Tom Udall (NM-3rd) Michael Honda (CA-15th) Betty McCollum (MN-4th) C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger (MD-2nd) Dave Obey (WI-7th), Ex Officio

MINORITY

Ranking Member: Zach Wamp (TN-3rd)
Ray LaHood (IL-18th)
John T. Doolittle (CA-4th)
Jerry Lewis (CA-41st), Ex Officio

SENATE

MAJORITY

Chair: Mary Landrieu (LA)

Richard Durbin (IL)

Ben Nelson (NE)

MINORITY

Ranking Member: Wayne Allard (CO)

Lamar Alexander (TN)

These Subcommittees will soon vote on GPO’s FY2008 funding request, and it will be crucial for them to hear from Depository Librarians and others who work with government information about the many ways that GPO products and services, in partnership with librarians, are used to meet the information needs of their constituents. This year’s budget situation is extremely tight, but full funding of GPO’s FY2008 appropriations request of $181.97 million is critical to the forward development of GPO’s ambitious Future Digital System (FDSys) with which we are all familiar.

The Subcommittees need to hear from us about critical programs that were not funded under the current budget year’s continuing resolution, including $2 million for the legally mandated printing and distribution of the 2006 U.S. Code, and another $8 million under GPO’s Salaries & Expenses appropriation for GPO’s ongoing digital initiatives. GPO Access, currently in the midst of a major upgrade, needs full funding so that the thousands of citizens who use it each day have the most modern and fully functional information retrieval system possible at their disposal. And while digital access is a tremendous boon for most users, print distribution is still essential for those legal resources for which print remains the only official and authentic format.

Most importantly, they need to hear our stories about how important a vibrant and vital GPO is to our ability as librarians to serve their constituents. GPO deserves enormous credit for its unprecedentedly rapid and dramatic transition from a primarily tangible-product publishing operation to a primarily digital one, but less than full funding threatens to slow that migration, leaving some elements of their plan to promote permanent public access to vital government information unfinished. Congress, which pressed GPO to make this transition, must now be encouraged to embrace it in a way that allows GPO to finish the job on time.

Time is extremely short. Action is expected before Memorial Day; it could come any time. A phone call or fax would be the most timely and powerful way to make your case. House member contact information is available at http://www.house.gov/ ; the website of the Subcommittee on Legislative Branch is at http://appropriations.house.gov/Subcommittees/sub_leg.shtml . On the Senate side, contact information is at http://www.senate.gov and the subcomittee’s website is http://appropriations.senate.gov. It’s up to us to make sure the members of both subcommittees understand the value of the services they’ll be voting on.

If you need help in the wording of your phone call or fax, consider the points given below. By all means, feel free to adapt the wording to your library’s particular needs and your own personal experience and point of view; a message that has a specific reference to your district or community is always the most meaningful. Although time does not permit sending by regular mail, if sending by fax you should include your representative’s full Capitol Hill mailing address along with the fax number.

SAMPLE MESSAGE

The Honorable ______

{address}

{fax no.}

Dear (Representative/Senator) ______ ,

I am writing to urge you, as a member of the Subcommittee on Legislative Branch, to support the full FY2008 funding request of the U.S.
Government Printing Office. GPO has made a powerful response to calls from Congress and other stakeholders to bring the dissemination of Federal government information into the 21st century. Now GPO needs the funding to ensure that none of the elements of this transformation are left unfinished.

GPO’s electronic initiatives are needed to replace obsolete technology and upgrade electronic services. The Salaires & Expenses request includes crucial funding to improve the GPO Access system, currently in the midst of a major upgrade, so that the thousands of citizens who use it each day have the most modern and fully functional information retrieval system possible at their disposal. This request will also enable GPO to catalog thousands of documents harvested from agency Web sites and develop authentic online publications.

While digital dissemination has made many publications easier to find and use, print is still the most useful format for certain types of information and certain categories of users. Funding is needed to ensure that the 2006 U.S. Code and the essential congressional resources of the 110th Congress are published and distributed to depository libraries in a timely manner. And print is still essential in the legal community because print remains the only format that is both official and authentic.

GPO’s request for the revolving fund includes $10.5 million for the continuing development of the Future Digital System (FDSysy), which is essential to GPO’s future. With your funding support to complete FDsys, the first public release will be next December.

Full funding to support a vigorous GPO, working with its partners in the Federal Depository Library Program and all libraries which use government information, will help ensure that your constituents have easy, no-fee access to Federal government information, both current and historic. I urge you to fund fully GPO’s FY 2008 budget request. Thank you very much.

Sincerely,

For more background on this issue, please see our posting where we highlighted testimony provided by Mary Alice Baish on behalf of AALL and SLA.

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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