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Three Cheers for GPO: Tangible Copies of US Budget

I was very happy to hear that the Government Printing Office will be producing paper copies of the annual US Budget despite a White House announcement to go electronic only. Here is the GPO message sent out to FDLP-L today:

From: Announcements from the Federal Depository Library Program [mailto:GPO-FDLP-L@LISTSERV.ACCESS.GPO.GOV] On Behalf Of FDLP Listserv
Sent: Thursday, January 10, 2008 12:03 PM
Subject: Tangible Copies of the Budget of the United States Government

On January 9, 2008, Office of Management and Budget Director Jim Nussle announced that the Budget of the United States Government would be released in a web-only format for Fiscal Year 2009 on February 4th, 2008. Mr. Nussle cited the cost savings of such a move as the reason for the discontinuance of paper copies of the Budget.

GPO wishes to assure the members of the Federal Depository Library Program that we are committed to keeping the various Budget publications in printed format. To this end, OMB has agreed to provide GPO with files of the Budget documents that will be put to press for the purpose of dissemination to the public through the FDLP and Publication & Information Sales Program. We intend to ship these tangible copies of the Budget in conjunction with the February 4th internet release.

The class numbers, titles, and item numbers involved in this announcement by OMB are:

PREX 2.8: Budget of the United States Government; 0853
PREX 2.8/1: Budget of the United States Government; 0853-C
PREX 2.8/5: Analytical Perspectives; 0855-B
PREX 2.8/7: Budget Revisions; 0853
PREX 2.8/8: Historical Tables, Budget of the United States
Government; 0853

If you have questions, please use the GPO online help service at:

Why is this good news? For several reasons:
Preservation - At this point in time, tangible formats are the only absolutely proven way to ensure something will be readable 100 years from now. LOCKSS and other technologies may eventually change this, but certainly in digital preservation still belongs to the future. And folks in 2109 will want to know how our government spent its money in 2009.
Access - While electronic versions of documents like this are terrific for searching for a specific piece of information, they can be cumbersome to use. And for the 80,000,000+ Americans without internet access, a tangible format is the only access they'll have to the President's spending plans.
Privacy - With the United States called a pervasive surveillance society by Privacy International and other groups, the best way to avoid gov't and commercial scrutiny of your scrutiny of the US budget is by using the paper version. I still plan to use both print and electronic, but it's nice to have the choice in my hands.

I haven’t asked GPO their reasons for continuing to print the US Budget in light of its migration to the Internet, but I am very glad they will be preserving this year’s documents for future generations. Three Cheers!


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