Friday, September 10, 2010

GPO-Access Replacement Launching, and Authentication of Law

GPO-Access has had a great run as the portal for the Government Printing Office. It is still up through the end of this calendar year. But the replacement site is already up and running and it looks great. Introducing...... (drumroll, please).......

It has a full home page. But it works well. There is a banner at the top with a small menu, which frankly all seem to lead back to the old GPO-Access website. There is an old FAQ section, which can be helpful if you have documents questions, and you can put in new documents questions with the same section, and check your existing queries as well.

But if you skip that top banner, and look at the main portion of the page, there are three panels, or columns. The left and right columns are narrower and the center is much broader. The left column offers again to take the reader back to GPO-Access, and divides the readers into Customers, Vendors and Libraries. Then there is a blue box of Quick Links to the most popular (one guesses) URLs:

* US Government Bookstore

* Ben's Guide to Government for Kids (a useful site!)

* FDLP Desktop (for the Federal Depository Libraries)

* Catalog of U.S, Government Publications

* Digitization Registry

(The choices remind the reader that 1) The GPO is the government's bookseller; 2) The Federal Depository Library Program is alive and is run through this site; 3) the GPO is charged with digitizing much of what it has been printing for centuries, and the users will want to know what is now available electronically.)

The right hand narrow column features a changing list of "Latest Resources." Today everything listed are congressional bills and debate transcripts about Wall Street reform and health care reform. But it gives the citation, title and a hot link to pick up the full text of the document. It also offers the entire text of the CFR (Code of Federal Regulations), the Federal Register issues, the Budget for fiscal year 2011, the Economic Report of the President for 2010, and more. Except for your time and disc space, these appear to be free downloads. The large files, such as titles of the CFR can be zipped, or can be delivered in XML, with each file size noted.

The center panel has the main news:

The migration of information from GPO Access into FDsys will be complete in 2010. The migration is occurring on a collection-by-collection basis.
There is a lengthy list of the various titles and the dates for which each is carried. The list is changing day by day, as the migration continues.

The top of the center panel has a search bar, where you can enter a basic search. There is, however, an advanced search function where you can specify the type of material to be searched, up to five search criteria can be laid on the query. There is an excellent Help section, which I believe is the same as from GPO-Access, though I may be wrong. It is a very powerful search engine for frequent users who master the syntax and understand the various tools offered, such as SuDoc numbers and referenced citations, but even the keyword search and simple search seem to work pretty well. There is also an option from the original search bar to Retrieve by Citation, which works easily because the system provides a set of boxes for the user to enter the citation, so you don't have to guess at the correct format. Even more exciting, when I pulled up a CFR citation for 2010, I got a digital version that was "Certified by the Superintendent of Documents [] United States Government Printing Office, certificate issued by GeoTrust CA for Adobe." This was in a medium blue bar across the top of the screen, with an image of a pen at the right side of the bar. This is exciting, the beginning of Digital Authentication of laws online.

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