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-Spencer L. Simons, former Director, O'Quinn Law Library and Associate Professor of Law



Monday, March 19, 2012

Farewell to GPO Access

On Friday, March 16, 2012 GPO Access passed away, off to meet its maker in whatever spot in Internet Heaven that is reserved for federal government websites.

GPO Access was born on June 8, 1993 when President Clinton signed Public Law 103-40, the “Government Printing Office Electronic Information Access Enhancement Act of 1993” and went live on June 8, 1993. GPO Access’ mission was to maintain a directory of electronic information, provide online access to the Congressional Record, the Federal Register and other publications, and operate an electronic storage facility for electronic government information. GPO Access completed its mission gloriously and can now rest.

GPO Access was the gateway to federal information in electronic format, and often time that format was PDF. While we take it for granted now, GPO Access used to charge subscription fees! The fees were eliminated on December 1, 1995 and usage shot up. At the time of the 1997 biennial report searches were up 1187% and retrievals were up 319% from the time when fees were charged.

What got the most use? The Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations. What got the least use? I would guess the material on Congressional rules and procedures. Using the Congressional rules and procedures material is, however, the basis for my fondest memory of GPO Access. I found out about this material through a political science course that I took. This material, consisting of the rules of the House and the Senate along with procedural precedents for both chambers is amazing and unappreciated material and lead me to write my first published article. I may be the only person who appreciated GPO Access. I thank you.

GPO’s new Federal Digital System (FDSys) seems ready, willing, and able to fill the online shoes that GPO Access leaves behind. Best of luck to you FDsys; researchers looking for reliable and free government information are relying on you. GPO Access will probably soon be interred in the CyberCemetary

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made through the Internal Revenue Service on or before April 17, 2012.

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