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Included below is the text of a letter that I submitted to the editor of
Roll Call earlier today in response to the article published yesterday
entitled "GPO to Charge for Publications on Web." My letter emphasizes that
GPO is merely exploring options for the sales program as we evaluate all of
our current services and look to the future. No decisions have been made, or
will be made, without further discussion and a careful analysis of the
issues.

The discussion following the Public Printer's remarks at the Federal
Depository Library Conference earlier this week was focused on the future of
the GPO's sales program, not the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP).
GPO remains strongly committed to providing free public access to Federal
government information through the FDLP, even as we seek to determine
whether it is feasible to build a sustainable business model for marketing
electronic information products to offset declining revenues from the sale
of print publications. It is for this reason that Bruce James sought the
advice of the depository library community about an appropriate model for
the sales program that would continue to complement the role of the FDLP, as
it did in the print era.

At this point, GPO is actively gathering information. We are not yet ready
to make a recommendation for changes to the sales program or to the FDLP.
Regardless of what plan we develop, we will share our proposal with the
community and seek the guidance and approval of the Joint Committee on
Printing and our other oversight and appropriations committees before moving
forward to implement any changes.

Bruce and I have already received some preliminary advice from the
Depository Library Council and look forward to a more complete report by
early December. We also welcome input from the depository library community
and others with an interest in the FDLP and the GPO sales program. Please
feel free to send your suggestions and comments to [log in to unmask] and
[log in to unmask]

(Please feel free to post this message to other lists.)

Judy Russell

Judith C. Russell ([log in to unmask])
Superintendent of Documents
U.S. Government Printing Office
Phone: 202-512-0571
Fax: 202-512-1434

* * * * * * * * * *

October 23, 2003

Mr. Tim Curran
Editor
Roll Call
50 F Street, NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC  20001

Dear Mr. Curran:

Regarding your article in yesterday's edition ("GPO to Charge for
Publications on Web," October 22), we have no immediate plans for the U.S.
Government Printing Office (GPO) to charge for our GPO Access databases. The
GPO is merely exploring options for the sales program as the agency
evaluates all of our current services and looks to the future.

Public Printer Bruce R. James raised this subject at the annual conference
of the Federal depository library community earlier this week. He asked the
library and information communities to work together with GPO to determine
whether it is feasible to build a sustainable business model for marketing
electronic information products to offset declining revenues from the sales
of print publications. This discussion focused on the future of the GPO's
sales program, not its Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP). GPO
remains strongly committed to providing free public access to Federal
government information through the FDLP. It is for this reason that Mr.
James sought the advice of the depository library community about an
appropriate model for the sales program that would continue to complement
the role of the FDLP, as it did in the print era.

To minimize the burden on the taxpayers, the Public Printer would like to
evaluate business models. The alternative would be to seek additional
appropriations from Congress, which GPO did this past year when Congress
approved a request for increased funding to cover the costs of upgrading and
modernizing GPO Access, our award-winning Web site
(http://www.gpoaccess.gov).

One of the meeting participants proposed that the Public Printer bring
together various experts on electronic information to discuss this issue.
Mr. James agreed and suggested that this be done at the April meeting of the
Depository Library Council. The Council meets twice each year to advise the
Public Printer on the operation of the FDLP and related matters.

At this point, GPO is actively gathering information. We are not yet ready
to make a recommendation for changes to the sales program. Regardless of
what plan we develop, we will seek the guidance and approval of the Joint
Committee on Printing and our other oversight and appropriations committees
before moving forward to implement any such changes.

Sincerely,

Judith C. Russell
Superintendent of Documents
U.S. Government Printing Office