Your Tax Dollars at Work
Quint, Barbara, Information Today
The Internet should serve as the U.S. government's primary archive
Remember good old NTIS? That's the National Technical Information Service to the anti-acronymic among you. For decades, this Commerce Department unit has collected and distributed, mainly in print and microform, the contract research of the federal government's executive branch. Other government dissemination areas would rise and fall, come and go, but slow-and-steady NTIS hung in there. It managed the nation's gray literature, making sure it didn't fade to static snow. Without this service and others like it in the government, most federally funded research would have stayed in the hands of the contractor and a handful of bureaucrats. The taxpayer's dollar might have turned from an investment in the nation's research knowledge base into be-ribboned federal freebies to major government contractors. So one can reliably allege that NTIS played its part in the ongoing technological growth of post-World War II America, thank you very much.
So what was NTIS's reward for all this yeoman-like effort? It has spent the last year or so fighting for its life as the executive branch hierarchy considers NTIS's failure to meet what it apparently regards as its prime directive: cost recovery. True, time and tide have reduced the role of federal funding in the nation's scientific and technical development from the days of the Cold War spending boom. But does that not make full and forceful dissemination of the material we do develop all the more important? Blithely, the eager executioners point to our friend the World Wide Web as a simple solution. And so it may be. But …
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: Your Tax Dollars at Work. Contributors: Quint, Barbara - Author. Magazine title: Information Today. Volume: 17. Issue: 9 Publication date: October 2000. Page number: 12. © 2009 Information Today, Inc. COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.