House Administration Rejects NAPA Recommendation to Charge Public for Access to Legislative Documents

May 22, 2013

Washington, D.C. – Today, House Administration Chairman Candice Miller, R-Mich., and Ranking Member Robert Brady, D-Pa., issued the following statement after the full Committee sent a letter to the Acting Public Printer of the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) rejecting a recent recommendation by the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) to charge the public for access to GPO’s congressional documents:

“Charging the public to access legislative data and documents would be a colossal setback to the progress Congress has made to improve transparency and access to legislative information.

“Over the past few years this Chamber has made vast improvements to the way the public accesses House information.  From posting financial disclosures online, to creating an online central repository for bills and amendments before the House and its committees, to establishing a single public website that hosts all live and archived committee hearing videos, we have worked towards the common goal of engaging our constituencies in the legislative process.  Charging the public to access important legislative documents offered online by GPO, like the Congressional Record and the U.S. Code, would be a direct assault on our ability to engage Americans in a process that is of great consequence to their livelihoods.

“While we share GPO’s efforts to seek remedies to government-wide budget constraints that have impacted every corner of the federal government, in the interest of transparency and accessibility, we believe that publicly available documents should continue to be offered to the public with free access.”  

The letter to GPO’s Acting Public Printer Davita Vance-Cooks is written in response to a recent report from NAPA, “Rebooting the Government Printing Office: Keeping America Informed,” which recommends that GPO consider charging “end users” for access to its repository of government documents made available via its online platform, Federal Digital System (FDsys).