GPO to retrofit archived pages

GPO to retrofit archived pages

Francis J. Buckley Jr.

The Government Printing Office will revise 30,000 archived Web pages to comply with Section 508 accessibility standards, even though the office is exempt from the requirements.

Because agencies can post documents electronically and circumvent the printing process, GPO's mission to make government information available by disseminating it to depository libraries and offering it to the public has changed in the digital era.

The agency is responsible for cataloging and indexing government publications in all formats, including electronic publications, said Francis J. Buckley Jr., GPO's superintendent of documents.

GPO regularly takes over agency Web sites that go out of existence and copies the sties' information on other federal pages, Buckley said. Agencies give the printing office source files for the Web pages so that GPO can manage the pages, if need be.

This has left the agency in charge of roughly 30,000 archived pages that do not meet the requirements of Section 508 and that GPO is exempted from having to retrofit.

Exempt from demands

The Office of Compliance exempted GPO, the General Accounting Office and the Library of Congress from meeting the Section 508 demands. The compliance office enforces the 1995 Congressional Accountability Act, which extends certain employment and civil rights protections to legislative employees, including some items in the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act.

The National Council on Disability questioned the exemptions, saying all congressional bodies should comply. But the criticism of GPO may have been premature.

GPO's main Web site and the 18 sites it operates for other agencies already comply with Section 508 requirements, GPO spokesman C. Michael Bright said.

'We caught the wind on this early,' Bright said. 'We are basically in compliance. When they checked, they found some typos and some tags that needed to be fixed, but that's it.'

Now, GPO officials have decided to wade through the 30,000 archived pages to figure out how to make them accessible, Bright said.

The goal is to make certain that the information is available today and to researchers 100 years from now, Buckley said.


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