Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) totally gets the internet. The senator, previously known online for annually releasing his "Wastebook," co-sponsored a bill introduced this week called the "Let Me Google That For You Act of 2014." No, that's really its name. The bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) proposes getting rid of the National Technical Information Service (NTIS), a searchable database of government reports and information.
The NTIS was established in 1950 as a central resource for government-funded data. But the senators are like: "All that stuff's already on the Google."
But, just like your friend who directs you to your smartphone after you ask what time a restaurant closes, the senators kind of have a point. If every agency that conducts government-funded research already publishes its results and data online, why collect them all on a separate website when Google's crawlers are doing it for free?
The bill notes that NTIS was established well before the internet age, and it notes a 2012 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report suggesting that at least 74 percent of documents added to the repository between 1990-2011 are available elsewhere online.
That GAO report rather succinctly noted the following:
The source that most often had the report [GAO] was searching for was another website located through http://www.Google.com.
NTIS also sells reports, though it doesn't sell enough to cover its operating costs, the text of the bill suggests. The bill also suggests it's unethical for a government agency to sell reports citizens can just download for free.
Unsurprisingly, Twitter was highly amused at the news: