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The politics of printing: 9/11 commission report

An interesting article entitled, ” UNDOCUMENTED EVIDENCE The Politics (and Profits) of Information: The 9/11 Commission One Year Later” has just come out from the Washington Spectator. The article, written by Max Holland, touches on various government information issues: privatization, the role of GPO and FDLP, access, government secrecy etc.

As a consequencs of this high level commission’s decision to give Norton the rights to publish their report instead of going through the GPO, much of the commission’s work was not included in the commission report, was only available online (if at all) or through private publishers for substantial cost. This highlights the weakness of the govt information system. That is, Title 44 has no teeth to make commissions, agencies, etc comply with the law and go through GPO for their publications. If GPO had had a role in the publication of the commission’s work, depository libraries would have had the commission’s final report, as well as staff monographs and other supplemental volumes. Instead, only the 567 page final report — with no index! — has been deposited. Washington Spectator has graciously allowed free access to this article. If you have a problem with the link, please download the PDF of the article attached to this post below. We will also add it to the FGI library.

“…The 9/11 Commission’s first departure from customary practice was its decision not to use the GPO. On May 19, 2004, the commission announced that W.W. Norton, a private New York publisher, would publish the “authorized edition” of its final report. According to the commission’s press release, Norton was selected based on the criteria of “affordability, accuracy, availability, and longevity.” There was no mention of a role for the GPO, which had long done a sterling job by these standards.”


“…The 9/11 Commission, however, never submitted a printing requisition to the GPO for publishing the many supplemental volumes that are in fact part of the report. The panel regarded this obligation as having been discharged when it made its staff monographs, interim reports, and public hearings available on the Internet.”

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