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Blistering Report on the GPO Issued by Nader’s Center for Study of Responsive Law

August 30, 2012
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WASHINGTON, DC—August 30, 2012—Ralph Nader’s Center for Study of Responsive Law released a new report on the Government Printing Office—titled, “The Peoples’ Printer: Time for a Reawakening,” by Tom W. Ryan with Jeff Musto. In the midst of the digital information age, this report reveals the shortfalls of a GPO that focuses on online information at the expense of print media.

Nader said, “With government information increasingly moving online, unconnected Americans are being left behind. These people are often the most vulnerable and isolated members of our society—the poor, the elderly, and the rural.”

The timely release of a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) report last week draws attention to the fact that 19 million Americans live in areas of the country that don’t have access to high-speed internet. A 2012 report from the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project that shows 22 percent of Americans over the age of 18 don’t use the internet. This equates to 50 million people.

“For over 150 years, since President Abraham Lincoln took office, the Government Printing Office has played a vital role in disseminating information about the government to Americans. As the GPO moves information online, the digital divide between connected and unconnected Americans is widening.

“This threatens the GPO’s self-proclaimed mission to ‘keep America informed. The GPO provides a range of information including information useful to consumers, about ongoing government activities, about public health, public services, citizen access to their government agencies and departments, and government reports, among other things,’” said Nader.

The GPO’s efforts to put an increasing amount of government information available online takes a huge step forward in making this information more accessible than ever to Americans with internet access. Over 13 million documents are retrieved from GPO’s online services each month, and this number is growing.

An unfortunate consequence of the shift away from print media, however, is that Americans who remain offline are increasingly disconnected from their government. “The Peoples’ Printer” paints a troubling picture of who is being left behind:

• 32.1 percent of Americans making less than $15,000 per year had high-speed internet access in their home, compared to nearly 90 percent of Americans making $150,000 or more annually.

• 49 percent of black Americans and 51 percent of hispanic Americans have access to broadband internet at home, compared to 66 percent of white Americans.
 
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