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Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn targets obscure agency that sells reports public can get for free

Coburn, Oklahoma Rep. Jim Bridenstine co-sponsor of legislation called the Let Me Google That For You Act to eliminate agency that loses money selling reports, including ones written by Coburn that are posted for free on the senator’s website.
by Chris Casteel Published: April 3, 2014

From 1995 to 2000, the GAO reported, the office sold only 8 percent of its 2.5 million reports and has lost an average of $1.3 million over the last 11 years.

Citing the GAO report, a House committee told the Department of Commerce last year to propose changes in the agency’s business model.

Coburn also sent a letter to the agency’s director requesting that the reports written by Coburn’s office be given to the public for free. He asked that the agency provide information about previous sales of the reports.

“Thank you for working to remedy this ridiculous situation,” Coburn wrote.

“It is inappropriate to charge taxpayers and federal agencies for these documents, which are posted online for all to view at no cost.”

According to the agency’s website, its mission is to “promote American innovation and economic growth by collecting and disseminating scientific, technical and engineering information to the public and industry, by providing information management solutions to other federal agencies, and by doing all without appropriated funding.”

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who is co-sponsoring the bill to eliminate the agency, said, “I find it staggering that the agency is selling government reports both to the public and to other federal agencies that are widely available for free and easy to find with a simple Google search — and the agency is still losing money.”

Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, is also co-sponsoring the bill.

by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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