OMB Watch says GILS implementation is poor

Most federal agencies have not implemented indexing programs for the Government
Information Locator Service, according to the administration watchdog group OMB Watch.

In a recent report, the nonprofit Washington organization found 33 agencies still have
not posted online any records for the information indexing service. Among the agencies are
two Cabinet-level departments, Justice and Transportation.

Of the 46 agencies that provided information to OMB Watch about how often they update
their GILS records, 31 had not updated the records this year. Of the 31, 12 agencies said
they had updated their records prior to last year, some not since 1995.

“This creates the misleading impression that there is no new government
information in these agencies when, in fact, the opposite is true,” the report said.
“This points out that the success of GILS must be measured in terms of the content
that is provided, not merely whether there is a GILS presence.”

Congress mandated GILS in the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980. The goal was to create a
common cataloging format for identifying, locating and describing publicly available
federal information, including information available electronically. GILS is not a central
clearinghouse or a system but rather a way to find information across agencies by a common

The report noted that GILS should complement federal use of the Internet by
establishing a common metadata structure that could be used across the government.

The report, Launch and Forget?: An OMB Watch Report on the Implementation of the U.S.
Federal GILS, primarily blames the Office of Management and Budget for GILS problems. The
lack of GILS implementation should come as no surprise “given the hands-off attitude
of OMB,” the report said.

The report did praise some agencies’ GILS efforts. The Environmental Protection
Agency and the departments of Defense and Interior are using GILS effectively, OMB Watch

EPA has an extensive database of materials cataloged for GILS, far surpassing any other
agency, OMB Watch said.

“EPA is one of the only agencies to attempt to disseminate information held in
various agency database through GILS records,” the report said.

The group made four recommendations for improving government implementation of GILS:


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