Commission calls for three new federal information offices

Commission calls for three new federal information offices

By Susan M. Menke

GCN Staff

FEB. 16—The National Commission on Libraries and Information Science, an independent executive agency, last month released a comprehensive assessment of the way the government disseminates public information.

The commission made 36 sweeping suggestions for improvement, including formation of three new federal offices plus enactment of a law to reform handling of public information resources.

The four-volume assessment, published in Adobe Portable Document Format at, was requested in 1999 by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.).

Noting that electronic information can disappear without a trace, the report found that agencies 'are trying to use the Web to ensure availability of information, and emerging efforts in indexing tools and portals offer some hope. However, not all needed information is available on the Internet nor do users necessarily have the skills to use what is available in any format. No policy is in place for long-term or permanent public access to Web-based information.'

The commission suggested establishing a Public Information Resources Administration, a Congressional Information Resources Office and a Judicial Information Resources Office. It recommended updating the business model of the Commerce Department's National Technical Information Service. It also called for consistent data identifiers across agencies and said that data elements set forth in the Government Paperwork Elimination Act should be reported in Extensible Markup Language.

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