Information operations · Military Information Support Operations

NTIS charging for free documents?


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I just received a link to the following titled article: Irregular Warfare Information Operations Understanding the Role of People, Capabilities and Effects

I was curious, so I clicked on the link and it seemed familiar.

http://www.ntis.gov/search/product.aspx?ABBR=ADA547305

This is a very good article by my friend, Norm Emery, that won a writing contest at the Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, KS.

I thought… $15 for an electronic copy? It’s only 13 pages for goodness sake.

Then I put the title into Google: http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CB4QFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fusacac.army.mil%2FCAC2%2FMilitaryReview%2FArchives%2FEnglish%2FMilitaryReview_20081231_art007.pdf&rct=j&q=Irregular%20Warfare%20Information%20Operations%3A%20Understanding%20the%20Role%20of%20People%2C%20Capabilities%2C%20and%20Effects&ei=8X6ITuW0K_GhsQKn0YzBDw&usg=AFQjCNFCZ6nL58VXqCUpKejunszSSZ5fkQ&sig2=aAe3AnhZDC3MEcN7ABmGcQ&cad=rja

…and in .27 seconds (according to Google’s own timer), I had the document ready for download for free.

Which brings me to my point, since when does a US Government agency charge money for a formerly free government document? It would seem a complete waste of money to have the National Technical Information Service, a part of the Department of Commerce, to have someone actually take the time to post that link, after having built the page, stored the document and arranged for a service to produce an electronic copy, microfiche, CD or print on demand?

The only thing I can figure out, and please inform me if I am incorrect, is that NTIS is a central repository and creates archives for government documents.  Somehow I didn’t know that Commerce had that mission.  What did I miss?

One thought on “NTIS charging for free documents?

  1. Joel, several months ago I found my Naval Postgraduate School Thesis for sale at amazon.com for around $35. Although pretty cool, I wondered why someone got to profit from my hard work that I relinquished to the government? I did not mind not profiting, but why should a private company (I assumed private-your blog raises a new element)? I posted a note on the NPS linkedIn site asking why this occurs, and the response was essentially it is a company that aggregates government article databases for a fee, and I should write a review telling folks how to get it for free. I did it, gave my email, and the listing is no longer there. I’d be interested to see if these sales are government altruism (i.e. at cost) or a significant private industry. Norman

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