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These two reports from federal agencies look at the future of free government information in the digital age. Since its establishment in 1861, the US Government Printing Office (GPO) has been responsible for printing key government documents from all three branches of the federal government, which are disseminated to the public via a network of over 1,300 federal depository libraries, in a variety of formats, including print and, increasingly, electronic. This centralized system of dissemination has been weakening in recent years as more and more government information is available at agency Websites. While there are many advantages to Web-accessible government information -- it is more searchable, available at all times of day without travelling, and may be less expensive for the government to produce -- there is a down side as well -- some segments of the US population cannot use electronic government documents, the explosion of information on the Internet makes government documents harder to find, and issues of authenticity and longevity have yet to be addressed. The first report, from the Government Accounting Office (GAO), studies the impact of providing documents solely in electronic format, and hypothesizes on what could be gained if some of the functions of the GPO were taken over by the Library of Congress.
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