ARCHIVED: Support for the FY 2003 Budget Requests of the Government Printing Office

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American Association of Law Libraries
American Library Association
Association of Research Libraries
Medical Library Association

May 21, 2002

The Honorable Richard J. Durbin
Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch
Committee on Appropriations
SD-115 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Durbin:

On behalf of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), the American Library Association (ALA), the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and the Medical Library Association (MLA), we write in support of the FY 2003 budget request of the Government Printing Office (GPO). Collectively, these three associations represent thousands of individuals and institutions serving communities throughout the Nation, including the more than 1300 federal depository libraries located in nearly every congressional district.

AALL is a nonprofit educational organization with over 5,000 members dedicated to promoting and enhancing the value of law libraries, fostering law librarianship and providing leadership and advocacy in the field of legal information and information policy. ALA is a nonprofit educational organization of 64,000 librarians, library trustees, and other friends of libraries dedicated to improving library services and promoting the public interest in a free and open information society. ARL is an Association of 123 research libraries in North America. ARL programs and services promote equitable access to and effective use of recorded knowledge in support of teaching, research, scholarship, and community service. MLA is an educational organization of more than 1,000 institutions and 3,800 individual members in the health sciences information field.

FY 2003 Budget Request Essential
We urge your support for the Public Printer's FY 2003 budget request of $129.3 million for the GPO that includes $34.1 million for the Salaries and Expenses (S&E) Appropriation of the Superintendent of Documents and $95.2 million for the Congressional Printing and Binding (CP&B) Appropriation. The S&E request includes $27.3 million to fund the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP), $4.0 million for the Cataloging and Indexing Program, $.7 million for the International Exchange Program and $.3 million for the By-Law Distribution Program. This amount includes necessary increases to support the continued operation of the FDLP, its continuing electronic transition plans and the increased demands upon GPO Access. We urge you to approve the full S&E appropriations request for FY 2003.

Growth of GPO Access and the Electronic Collection Impressive
The FDLP is a unique program and one of the most effective, efficient and successful partnerships between Congress and the American public. The FDLP provides your constituents with equitable, ready, efficient and no-fee access to Federal government information in an increasingly electronic environment. Today Congress, government agencies, and the courts increasingly are relying on state-of-the-art technologies to create and disseminate government information through the Internet. One of the critical keys to GPO's successful transition to a more electronic program has been the growth of the GPO Access system, a central access point within the GPO for electronic government information that today makes available to the public approximately 225,000 titles. Created by Public Law 103-40, GPO Access has grown into a unique digital collection of official government databases from all three branches of government including the Congressional Record, the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations. Currently an average of 31 million documents are downloaded by the public each month, a substantial increase from last year that attests to the importance and value of this award-winning system to the American public.

The FDLP and GPO Access are vital to the dissemination and access of Federal government information to our citizens. We believe that the FY 2003 S&E budget request is essential to the continued transition to a more electronic program and the continued success of GPO Access. We urge you to approve the requested increase that includes $91,000 to hire 3 additional FTEs to assist in managing the FDLP Electronic Collection and $2.6 million for equipment and systems improvements necessary to enhance GPO Access. Since GPO is responsible for permanent public access to the content of its Electronic Collection, funding to strengthen digital archiving and migration capabilities is essential.

GPO has continued to make excellent progress over the past year in enhancing its Electronic Collection. GPO constantly adds new data and products to the system, building a current collection of valuable new electronic resources. At the same time, GPO provides permanent access to core legislative and regulatory information and to agency information managed by GPO on GPO servers. Each year, the historic electronic collection grows, requiring GPO to meet its responsibility for ensuring permanent public access. This function presents probably the most difficult challenge of the networked electronic environment. Just as the government has an affirmative obligation to provide current access to its information, in the digital arena this obligation extends to ensuring the preservation of and permanent public access to electronic government publications.

FDLP Libraries' Significant Services and Investments
FDLP libraries are doing their part by investing in technologies to assist them in accessing electronic government information. These investments exemplify the substantial costs that participating depository libraries incur in order to provide your constituents with equitable, ready, efficient and no-fee access to government information in both print and electronic formats. These costs include providing highly trained staff, adequate space, necessary additional materials, expensive equipment and Internet connections. The success of GPO Access cannot be measured without acknowledging the substantial costs covered by libraries. Depository libraries serve as important channels of public access to government publications and contribute significantly to the success of this program. The government's responsibility to make available to depository libraries government publications in both tangible and electronic formats is successful because of the necessary partnerships developed between the Federal government, the GPO, and the Federal depository libraries. In order for GPO to continue to increase the amount of government information available for current and future public access through the Internet and in order for the Federal government to fulfill its responsibilities of the partnership, it is critically important that Congress provide adequate funds to support the transition to a more electronic program.

Importance of Full Funding for the CP&B
We also urge your support for the Public Printer's request of $95.2 million for the Congressional Printing and Binding (CP&B) appropriation. This amount includes $5.9 million to cover a budget shortfall in the FY 2001 appropriations that will not be needed if Congress approves GPO's FY 2002 supplemental appropriations request submitted last month. Broad public access to legislative information, including the Congressional Record, the text of bills, as well as committee hearings, reports, documents and other legislative materials, is crucial to the ability of our citizenry to engage in the political process. Indeed, recent polls have demonstrated the public's increasing awareness of and thirst for information from their government, including Congress. Full support for the CP&B request will ensure the necessary electronic infrastructure to make congressional materials available in a timely manner for permanent accessibility through GPO Access and will maintain GPO's in-plant printing operation for Congress.

OMB Memorandum Concerning Procurement through the GPO
Chairman Durbin, we were pleased with the thoughtful questions that you posed to Public Printer Michael DiMario during the Subcommittee hearing on May 8, 2002 on the impact of the recent OMB memorandum regarding the "Procurement of Printing and Duplicating through the Government Printing Office" (M-02-07). The library community has opposed previous efforts by the Office of Management and Budget to eliminate GPO's centralized role in the procurement of government publications because of the negative impact it would have on public access through the Federal Depository Library Program. The FDLP is successful in its distribution of tangible government publications-in print, microfiche, and CD-ROM-because of the transparency that exists between the procurement functions of GPO and the distribution of government publications procured or produced by GPO to depository libraries. While the government has made progress in providing greater Internet access to online government information, there remains a sizeable number of materials that continue to be produced by agencies in tangible formats. According to GPO's FY 2001 statistics, 5.9 million copies of 14,700 titles were distributed in tangible formats to depository libraries. That figure remains constant for FY 2002.

To destroy the important link between procurement and distribution by allowing each executive agency to procure its own printing would result in a substantial increase in the number of fugitive documents that already exist because of agency in-house printing and privatization efforts. While the memorandum includes a footnote that "Departments and agencies shall continue to ensure that all government publications, as defined in 44 U.S.C. Part 19, are made available to the depository library program through the Superintendent of Documents," there is no mechanism for this to occur and past history tells us it would be ineffective and inefficient.

Indeed, the Department of Health and Human Services' Review of the National Institutes of Health Printing Program focuses on several National Research Institutes that in 1988 were given the authority to publish outside of the GPO but were required to ensure that GPO received sufficient number of copies of such titles for distribution to depository libraries and one copy for GPO's Cataloging and Indexing. Additional, the National Institute of Health (NIH) was to report to GPO monthly a list of publications that had been published outside of GPO. The results of the review illustrate a lack of compliance with 44 U.S.C. Chapters 17 and 19 (cataloging and distribution) and the reporting requirement by these entities at NIH. Thus most publications of these institutes became fugitive documents and, although created by government employees and paid for by taxpayer dollars, they were not made available to the public through the FDLP as required by the printing waiver.

The transparent link between the procurement and printing of publications through the GPO and distribution through the FDLP is a system that has worked efficiently for over 100 years and served the government, Congress and the American public very well. Destroying this important link by allowing agencies to procure their publications on their own as proposed by OMB M-02-07 would decimate the depository library program and deprive the public of access to tangible government publications paid for by their tax dollars through their local depository library. The library community strongly opposes this proposed change.

We are very grateful to you and to the Subcommittee for your past support of GPO Access, the Federal Depository Library Program and GPO's Congressional Printing and Binding services. The investment in systems and services to provide the public with government publications in all formats will ensure that valuable electronic government information created today will be preserved for future generations. We respectfully urge your continued support by approving the Government Printing Office's FY 2003 appropriations request in its entirety. We ask that you please include this statement as part of the May 8, 2002 hearing record. Thank you very much.

Sincerely,

Mary Alice Baish
American Association of Law Libraries

Lynne E. Bradley
American Library Association

Prudence S. Adler
Association of Research Libraries

Mary M. Langman
Medical Library Association