Coburn, McCaskill Introduce “Let Me Google That For You” Bill

Let Me Google That For You

Senators Tom Coburn and Claire McCaskill have taken inspiration from a popular snarky web search tool for their newest piece of bipartisan legislation:

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) introduced a new bill this week called the Let Me Google That For You Act of 2014 (seriously).

The bill is meant to cut down on “the collection and distribution of government information” by prioritizing using Google over spending money to obtain information from the National Technical Information Service (NTIS).

NTIS, run by the Department of Commerce, is a repository of 3 million scientific, technical, engineering, and business texts.

The bill would abolish the NTIS and move essential functions of the agency to other agencies like the National Archives. The bill’s name is a play on a snarky website that links to Google’s search engine.

“No Federal agency should use taxpayer dollars to purchase a report from the National Technical Information Service that is available through the Internet for free,” the bill reads.

It’s likely a small amount of money involved here, but it is exceedingly stupid for anyone to pay for something you can get on the Internet for free.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Quick Takes, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. KM says:

    but it is exceedingly stupid for anyone to pay for something you can get on the Internet for free.

    But then you get what you pay for, Doug. Tell me, would you trust someone to do surgery on you who’s entire medical knowledge came from WebMD? After all, why pay for a doctor’s expertise (expensive due to the training and real life experience) when it’s all out there for free and is somewhat reasonable accurate for a layman to obtain?

    If the government is going to trust getting facts from the Internet, the trolls will own us all. If you can’t trust Wikipedia completely, what makes you think anywhere else is better? Schools won’t accept Wiki as a valid standalone source but the US government will?!

    NTIS, run by the Department of Commerce, is a repository of 3 million scientific, technical, engineering, and business texts.

    And how many of these are on free sites? How many are on subscription-only (thus eliminating the cost savings)? How many texts out there are blurbs that were cut and possibly “creatively-edited” and who’s going to check on that? Will there be authorized sites or will it be a free-for-all?

    “I found it on the Internet so it must be true.”

  2. michael reynolds says:

    I love how we all pretend that Congressmen care about facts.

  3. Hal_10000 says:

    @KM:

    You’re barking up the wrong tree. We’re not talking about NIH vs. WebMD. This service provides printed reports for a fee; reports that are available for free from the government’s own websites. An example is Coburn’s own report on Pentagon waste, which is available for free on his website but that the NTIS spends money printing and making available for no readily apparent reason. This service prints millions of copies of reports they end up throwing away and, even thought they charge fees, losing tons of money.

    Given the immense investment our government has made in making information available on their websites, there is absolutely no reason to fund an agency to do it a second time.

  4. Franklin says:

    I’m actually impressed that either of those two have any sense of humor at all.