THE “FUGITIVE DOCUMENTS” ISSUE
As the world has
gone digital, GPO and its Superintendent of
Documents division have been consistently
reporting that the number of “Fugitive
Documents” is increasing. A “Fugitive Document”
is a government publication or government
information, produced with taxpayer funds, which
should be available to the public on the unified
FDSYS-GPO Access website and system, but
which never reaches GPO.
There are more
than a few of these government documents: some
estimates range into the hundreds of thousands.
have responded that the documents or information
is available on some agency website or
sub-site. However, the federal government
requires that agencies provide digital or
electronic copy of the publication to GPO for
inclusion into the FDSYS-GPO Access
system. Using FDSYS-GPO Access provides
both government and private sector users with
one-stop shopping for government documents and
information. No one has the time – nor should
they spend the time – looking through hundreds
of websites to find information that was
generated with taxpayer funds. Library groups
and associations have been on the forefront of
the fight to reduce the number of fugitive
documents with GPO is the various. Since some
government publications and documents are not in
print, getting them to GPO FDSYS-GPO Access
in digital format is the only way that a library
can fully meet the needs of its customers.
Of course, if
the document or information is printed, GPO
typically receives the document or publication
in electronic format, and that format is
provided to the printer. The document or
information is then available to FDSYS-GPO
However, where the document is not printed,
or where an agency prints the document in-house,
or contracts directly with a printer to have it
produced (in violation of Title 44 of the U.S.
Code), the document or publication often never
makes its way to FEDSYS-GPO Access.
solution is for the government agencies to send
more documents and government information to GPO
to be printed by private sector printers!
However, even for materials that are not sent to
GPO to be printed, those of us who are part of
the government printing and information system
need to come out strongly in support of a
methodology that would force agencies to provide
taxpayer funded government publications and
government information to FDSYS-GPO Access.