Document Type


Publication Date

March 2000


In: Journal of Government Information, Volume 27 (2000) pages 581-593


Web information systems are having a profound effect on the way information is being disseminated today. Current technological advances have caused many government agencies to re-evaluate their practice of contracting with private sector vendors who have traditionally repackaged and marketed the agency's raw data. These new opportunities for government agencies wishing to make information publicly accessible have blurred the traditional distinctions between public and private dissemination activities. Low-cost public dissemination of information has resulted in private sector vendors arguing that public electronic distribution and publication creates unfair competition. New partnerships, such as the recent venture between the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) and the commercial search engine, Northern Light, in developing the ``usgovsearch'' product are also being explored. From another viewpoint, library associations are strongly supporting legislation that would broaden,strengthen, and enhance public access to electronic government information. Key issues to be discussed are: (1) the debate concerning public vs. private access to government information; (2) Does electronic access to government information eliminate the need for printed documents? and (3) Joint efforts -- when should the government team up with private sector allies to charge for information services and access?