‘Google Act’ Would Terminate NTIS
A bill introduced in April in the U.S. Senate would effectively abolish the National Technical Information Service (NTIS), which was established in 1950 to collect scientific and technical reports and provide them to the public and to U.S. Government agencies.
S. 2206, known informally as the “Let Me Google That for You Act,” builds on the findings of a 2012 study conducted by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). That study found that the NTIS has been steadily increasing the size of its collection, but most of the materials it has been adding to its repository are older (i.e., published prior to 2000), whereas demand is greatest for newer materials. The study also estimated that of the reports added to NTIS’s repository between 1990 and 2011, roughly three-fourths were available either from the issuing organization’s Website, the U.S. Government’s Internet portal, or another source readily accessible from a Web search.
If enacted, S. 2206 would eliminate all of the services provided by the NTIS except those deemed “critical to the economy of the United States.” Any services meeting that description that are not being carried out by any other government agency would be transferred to other offices within the U.S. Commerce Department.
Free Government Information, an advocacy group founded by academic librarians, claims that the sponsors of S. 2206 “fundamentally misunderstand the Internet” and that “Google and USA.gov are simply pointing to NTIS, so if NTIS goes away, the reports … found there will go away too.” The group also notes that “Federal agencies—not to mention the public!—sometimes need to pay for these reports because they’re copyrighted!”
Only seven senators (two original sponsors and five co-sponsors) have signed on in support of S. 2206, and with August recess approaching and Congressional elections taking place in early November, prospects for action on the bill are slim. Nevertheless, SLA members are encouraged to contact their senators and urge them to oppose the bill.