Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Government Data

In the dark old days of on-line searching, such as with Dialog, one had a few databases which were searched by a complex string of commands. The result was a paper title or abstract at best. Then you selected the desired paper and waited until a copy arrived to only find that it did not contain what you really sought.

A holdover from that era is the NTIS, a depository for all Government non-classified studies. Hidden deep within some cave somewhere are all these records. In this depository one must carefully craft a search strategy using the proper phrases and symbols. For example I entered "radar" and got but 2 replies! Do that in google and you get 370 million! So which is better? Not hard to see.

Along comes a few senators and they see that perhaps they can save a buck. Novel thought. In an NHPR piece they state:

New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte is joining with three fellow Republicans to introduce legislation to eliminate what they view as an outdated and duplicative government agency. The bill, dubbed the "Just Google It Act," would eliminate the National Technical Information Services. Ayotte and her co-sponsors say the agency prints and sells copies of government documents that can be found for free online through a simple search. The other sponsors are Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois, Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia. Ayotte previously introduced similar legislation with Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri. Ayotte says there's no justification for funding an agency whose mission is no longer necessary. The Department of Commerce estimates the agency will have an operating cost of $170 million this year.

Now $170 million may not be much, 5 cents per citizen, but it is a start.