TULSA - A federal agency that sells information that's readily available on the Internet -- and loses money in the process -- has drawn fire from a bi-partisan group of lawmakers, including Oklahoma's Senator Tom Coburn and Representative Jim Bridenstine.
They call it the "Let Me Google That For You Act," and it has co-sponsors on the other side of the aisle, Henry Cuellar (Texas) in the House and Claire McCaskill (Missouri) in the Senate.
Bridenstine tells KRMG “it's only the Federal Government would attempt to sell what you can get for free, make no money, and then subsidize the failure.”
"These days," he continued, "almost all of these government documents are available free on the Internet if you'll just take the time to Google them."
The agency in question is the National Technical Information Service (NTIS).
“This is the ‘let me google that for you’ office of the federal government,” said Dr. Coburn. “Nearly all of the reports being sold are already available for free on other government websites, including my own."
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) did a study on NTIS operations.
It found that between 1995 and 2000, the agency only sold eight percent of some 2.5 million reports it had in its inventory.
It loses an average of more than $1.3 million a year, and so taxpayers not only pay for the agency to exist, they also have to make up the shortfall.
The bill's sponsors say eliminating NTIS would be one small step toward eliminating waste and redundancy in federal government.