Better Information Management Policies Needed:

A Study of Scientific and Technical Bibliographic Services

PSAD-79-62: Published: Aug 6, 1979. Publicly Released: Aug 6, 1979.

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The Federal Government needs to recognize the value of the scientific, technical, and other specialized information it produces and take steps to manage it as carefully as it does other valuable resources. A study was made of the biblographic systems of 38 information centers in five agencies. The study confirmed the need for better information management cited in many reports over the past decade, and identified problems of duplication of services and facilities and failure to recover costs in the operation of scientific and technical bibliographic information systems.

Despite the recommendations of numerous reports over the years, managing information does not have a high priority within Federal departments and agencies. Agencies generally have not designated a single, high-level official responsible for managing and coordinating information activities. Little attention is paid to coordinating scientifc and technical information activities across agency lines. Absence of a Government-wide coordinating committee may have resulted in a lower concern for managing scientific and technical information. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Office of Science and Technology Policy question the need for a permanent coordinating committee. However, to be effective, the committee must have some degree of permanence and continuity, have a formal channel to a strong focal point, and receive strong support and leadership from the policymaking level. Agencies' policies and practices for recovering the cost of providing bibliographic services to public and private-sector users are not consistent with Federal policies and OMB guidance.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Matter: When enacting legislation establishing information centers or clearinghouses, Congress should require the agency head to use existing systems in the Federal agencies or private sector at lesser cost to the extent possible. Congress also should provide more specific guidance with respect to information services which should be exempted from the general policy of cost recovery.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Director of OMB should direct each department and agency to designate a high-level official responsible for information management; establish an interagency coordinating committee for scientific and technical information management; coordinate with the Office of Science and Technology Policy; include scientific and technical information management in developing approaches to better information resources management; work with the executive departments to develop a clear policy of cost recovery consistent with applicable statutes; require each department and agency to develop information on the cost of bibliographic and other information services to serve as a basis for carrying out an effective cost recovery program; require each department and agency to implement the guidance in a manner which will achieve prescribed cost recoveries; and examine special cost recovery problems which may be involved in pricing Government services to information retailers.

    Agency Affected:


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