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Electronic access makes high-priced agency obsolete

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  1. Freedom of Information
WASHINGTON, D.C.--Department of Commerce Secretary William Daley in mid-August announced that he will ask Congress to dismantle the National Technical…

WASHINGTON, D.C.–Department of Commerce Secretary William Daley in mid-August announced that he will ask Congress to dismantle the National Technical Information Service, saying the agency is no longer needed in a day of advanced electronic technology.

NTIS since 1950 has provided selected government documents, primarily scientific and technical reports, for a fee.

Because NTIS can offer records for some profit and was intended to be self-sustaining, its charges for reports generally exceed charges to requesters who seek information under the Freedom of Information Act. The FOI Act provides that if another law sets fees for information, FOI fees will not apply and so records sold by NTIS were not generally released under the FOI Act.

In a news release, the Commerce Department said that “changes in the information marketplace” have eliminated the need for NTIS and made it increasingly difficult for the agency to survive. It noted that one report sold by NTIS for $27 can now be downloaded for free from the agency which prepared it.

(Department of Commerce news release, August 12, 1999)