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Free Government Information (FGI) is a place for initiating dialogue and building consensus among the various players (libraries, government agencies, non-profit organizations, researchers, journalists, etc.) who have a stake in the preservation of and perpetual free access to government information. FGI promotes free government information through collaboration, education, advocacy and research.

Contact your representatives to save NTIS

Federal technical reports are a critical piece of the nation’s scientific literature. But technical reports are in danger. We’ve been tracking on S.2206 the “Let me google that for you” Act which seeks to shut down the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) (here’s the Bill text sponsored by Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn with 5 cosponsors Claire McCaskill [D-MO], Deb Fischer [R-NE], Jeff Flake [R-AZ], John Walsh [D-MT], and Ron Johnson [R-WI]). As we’ve noted, this bill “fundamentally misunderstands the Internet and misrepresents the case by stating that finding Federal technical reports “elsewhere” is google and usa.gov, *internet search engines*!

At the last American Library Association (ALA) conference held 2 weeks ago, the Government Documents Round Table (GODORT) passed a resolution in support of the NTIS — public disclosure: I’m a member of the Legislation Committee which drafted the resolution. The text of the resolution is below. While the resolution passed GODORT, it has been sent back to ALA’s Committee on Legislation (COL) to work on some wording before being sent to ALA Council.

However, we’re sharing the text of the resolution now in the hopes that our readers — especially those in OK, MO, NE, AZ, MT and WI — will contact their representatives to tell them to SAVE THE NTIS!

RESOLUTION ON PRESERVING PUBLIC ACCESS TO SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL REPORTS AVAILABLE THROUGH THE NATIONAL TECHNICAL INFORMATION SERVICE

Whereas some three million scientific and technical reports are held by the National Technical Information Service (NTIS), thereby promoting research, innovation, and business;

Whereas since 1940, NTIS has been co-operating with federal agencies to collect, preserve, catalog, and provide their reports in paper, microform, and digital formats;

Whereas many federal agencies choose not to maintain collections of their own reports and to depend upon NTIS to provide these reports;

Whereas many federal agencies do not have statutory responsibility or the resources to provide permanent access to these reports and depend upon NTIS to provide them to other government agencies and the public;

Whereas the process of federal agencies entrusting their reports to NTIS ensures permanent access to the public, eliminates duplication of effort, and saves tax dollars;

Whereas since many of the federal agencies that published these reports no longer exist, many of their reports are only available through NTIS;

Whereas over two million of these reports are held only in paper or microform by NTIS and are not available in digital form from any source;

Whereas NTIS has the statutory authority to provide information management services to other federal agencies, including such programs as the Social Security Administration Death Master File used by insurance and annuity companies and the Drug Enforcement Agency Controlled Substances Registrants Data Base, which enables members of the medical community to prescribe and handle controlled substances, and the Federal Science Repository Service which supports the preservation and long-term access of participating agencies content;

Whereas the “Let Me Google That For You Act” ( S. 2206 and H. R. 4382) would abolish NTIS, and the “Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science, and Technology (FIRST) Act” (H. R. 4186), as amended in the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, would repeal the law that authorizes NTIS;

Whereas these bills make no provision for the preservation of the reports and their cataloging data;

Whereas these bills do not provide libraries such as the Library of Congress, the national libraries, and libraries in the Federal Depository Library Program an opportunity to help “determine if any functions of NTIS are critical to the economy of the United States”;

Whereas the American Library Association has long supported the provision of all federal government reports and publications, at no charge, to the public through libraries and other services;

now, therefore be it

Resolved, that the American Library Association (ALA)

1. urges the United States Congress to appropriate funds to ensure that the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) continues to act as a central repository for scientific and technical reports;

2. urges United States Congress to fund the provision of these reports to the federal agencies and the public at no charge;

3. urges the United States Congress to consult with librarians at the Library of Congress, the national libraries, corporate libraries, and the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) in determining “if any functions of NTIS are critical to the economy of the United States”;

4. urges the United States Congress to put NTIS under the umbrella of the Office of Science Technology Policy (OSTP) directive, “Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Scientific Research” (February 22, 2013); and

5. urges the United States Congress to fund a digital preservation plan for scientific and technical reports, which would be developed by NTIS, CENDI (formerly Commerce, Energy, NASA, Defense Information Managers Group), the Government Printing Office, the National Archives, federal publishing agencies, and the library community.

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


2 Comments

    • Thanks Adam. Yes one would think we’ve been over this many times, but privatization continually rears its ugly head in the govt info world.

      In the interest of open, academic discussion, here’s the article in question:

      An NTIS case study: A skirmish in the privatization wars. Kathleen Eisenbeis. Government Publications Review Volume 15, Issue 4, July–August 1988, Pages 355–369

      https://www.dropbox.com/s/o959ap86ofiezxs/NTIS_case_study_1988.pdf

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