ARCHIVED: IAWG Endorsement of the "Government Publications Reform Act of 1998"

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American Association of Law Libraries - American Library
Association - Association of Research Libraries - Chief Officers
of State Library Agencies - Medical Library Association - Special
Libraries Association - Urban Libraries Council June 24, 1998

June 24, 1998

The Honorable John W. Warner, Chairman and
The Honorable Wendell H. Ford, Ranking Minority Member
Senate Committee on Rules and Administration
SR-305 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Fax: 202-224-3036

Dear Senator Warner and Senator Ford:

I am writing on behalf of the Inter-Association Working Group on Government Information Policy (IAWG), a cooperative team of representatives from seven national library associations that has worked since February 1997 to develop goals and draft legislation to enhance public access to government information through the Federal Depository Library Program. These associations represent more than 80,000 librarians, information specialists, library trustees, libraries, and others interested in library issues.

We have reviewed the June 10, 1998, Staff Discussion Draft of the "Government Publications Reform Act of 1998" and earlier versions of this draft legislation. Throughout the development of this bill, Eric Peterson and Kennie Gill of your staffs have maintained very close communication with our Working Group. They have been extremely responsive to our comments and suggestions, and they have taken the time on numerous occasions to meet with us to discuss this bill. We are grateful for the spirit of openness and responsiveness that has characterized our relationship with your offices during the past year and a half.

The combination of this very accommodating cooperative process together with the strong and forward-looking provisions included in the latest Draft lead us to endorse this legislation and enthusiatically support its introduction. The Chapter 19 revision in Title IV of the Draft, which has been the primary focus of our work, will create a stronger federal publication access program to meet the challenges of the electronic age even as it continues to distribute print and other tangible materials. The American public, depository libraries, and the federal government will all benefit from improved access to government information in all formats as we move into the 21st century.

From the very beginning, the IAWG has focused on the following three principal Goals to guide us in the revision of Title 44:

  • To broaden, strengthen, and enhance public access to all forms of government information.
  • To strengthen the role of the Superintendent of Documents and the Federal Depository Library Program in providing public access to government information.
  • To establish the affirmative responsibility of the federal government to preserve and provide permanent public access to its information, and to develop regulations and guidelines to ensure the authenticity of government information.

We believe that this Draft legislation accomplishes our objectives. Thus, while we cannot speak for each individual organization whose members have not yet reviewed the final work product of this effort, the Inter-Association Working Group, strongly supports enactment of the Government Publications Reform Act of 1998. We intend to work within our organizations to seek their endorsements and to work together towards passage of this important legislation this year.

At the same time, we are aware of concerns that the Government Printing Office and others have voiced about some of the provisions in this Draft. No doubt other concerns will be raised as a larger segment of affected constituencies, including the broad library community, government agencies, and the general public, have the opportunity to assess the bill's many provisions.

We are confident, however, considering the dedication, hard work, and commitment which you and your staff have brought to this point in the legislative process, that any outstanding issues can and will be appropriately resolved.

The IAWG remains committed to working with you as you perfect this landmark piece of legislation and shepherd it through the legislative process in the few remaining months of the 105th Congress. Thank you again for your personal efforts to improve and enhance public access to government information.

Sincerely,

Daniel P. O'Mahony
Chair, Inter-Association Working Group