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The Government Information Locator Service (GILS)

May 2, 1994


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GILS 5/2/94 Document Executive Summary

In coordination with the Information Infrastructure Task Force (IITF), the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is promoting the establishment of an agency-based Government Information Locator Service (GILS) to help the public locate and access information throughout the Federal Government. This report presents a vision of how GILS will be implemented.

Working primarily with OMB and the Locator Subgroup of the Interagency Working Group on Public Access, Eliot Christian of the U.S. Geological Survey prepared this report under the auspices of the IITF Committee on Information Policy. This vision of GILS has also received extensive review by various Federal agencies and other interested parties, including some non-Federal organizations and by the general public through notices in both the Federal Register and the Commerce Business Daily and at a public meeting held in December, 1993.

As part of the Federal role in the National Information Infrastructure, GILS will identify and describe information resources throughout the Federal government, and provide assistance in obtaining the information. It will be decentralized and will supplement other agency and commercial information dissemination mechanisms.

The public will use GILS directly or through intermediaries, such as the Government Printing Office, the National Technical Information Service, the Federal depository libraries, other public libraries, and private sector information services. Direct users will have access to a GILS Core accessible on the Internet without charge. Intermediate access may include kiosks, "800 numbers," electronic mail, bulletin boards, FAX, and off-line media such as floppy disks, CD-ROM, and printed works.

GILS will use standard network technology and the American National Standards Institute Z39.50 standard for information search and retrieval so that information can be retrieved in a variety of ways. Direct users will eventually have access to many other Federal and non-Federal information resources, linkages to data systems, and electronic delivery of information products.

Development of this report proceeded in tandem with a GILS Profile development project that produced an Implementors Agreement in the voluntary standards process. The National Institute of Standards and Technology is now establishing a Federal Information Processing Standard referencing the GILS Profile Implementors Agreement and making mandatory its application for Federal agencies establishing locators for government information.

Existing law and policy, as articulated in OMB Circular A-130, the Records Disposal Act, and the Freedom of Information Act, require agencies to create and maintain an inventory of their information systems and information dissemination products. Although compliance with these requirements varies greatly, the incremental cost of making those inventories accessible through GILS is expected to be minimal. Accordingly, participation in establishing and maintaining GILS may be accomplished as a collective effort executed within existing funds and authorities. OMB will publish in 1994 a Bulletin following on Circular A-130 that will specify agency responsibilities in GILS and set implementation schedules. A process for ongoing evaluation will also be established to evaluate the degree to which GILS meets the information needs of the public.

This document is available on the FedWorld electronic bulletin board (703-321-8020) or by anonymous FTP (File Transfer Protocol) via the Internet at www.usgs.gov in the directory /pub/gils as gils.doc (Microsoft Word for Windows 6.0 format), gils.rtf (Rich Text Frmat), or gils.txt (ASCII text format).

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