Federal Electronic Information in the United States

Authored by: Carol D. Doyle

Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science, Fourth Edition

Print publication date:  November  2017
Online publication date:  November  2017

Print ISBN: 9781466552593
eBook ISBN: 9781315116143
Adobe ISBN:

10.1081/E-ELIS4-120008881

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Abstract

The dissemination of federal information in electronic form, and in particular the use of the Internet, offer the opportunity to provide more timely, convenient, and widespread access to government information resources. However, identifying and locating needed government information can be difficult and frustrating for users attempting to navigate the fragmented and complex federal information landscape. This fragmentation is seen in the overwhelming number of federal Web sites that lack central coordination, even within a specific organizational hierarchy (e.g., departmental or legislative). It also appears in the varying media and formats in which the information may be offered and in the use of partnerships and privatization to distribute government information. Navigation is made more difficult by the fact that government information offered via the Web frequently changes location or apparently entirely disappears. The existence of multiple comprehensive locators, GPO Access, FedWorld, and the GILS, all established at the direction of Congress, and the Executive Branch's FirstGov, illustrates the lack of an overall strategy for the provision of access to federal information. The development of a comprehensive government-wide policy framework is needed to realize the promise offered by technology to improve public access to government information.

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