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Circular Letter No. 614

(Supersedes Circular Letter No. 458 dated December 8, 1999)

May 30, 2006

TO: Printing and Publishing Officials of the Federal Government

SUBJECT: Disseminating Electronic Government Information Products to the Public through the Federal Depository Library Program

The Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP), administered by the Government Printing Office (GPO), is the Nation's principal channel for providing Federal Government information to the public. The purpose and goals of the FDLP are derived from the following underlying principles:

  • The public has the right of access to Government information.
  • Government has an obligation to disseminate and provide broad access to its information.
  • Government has an obligation to guarantee the authenticity and integrity of its information and to ensure its preservation.

Electronic technologies afford tremendous opportunities for improved and enhanced public access to Government information. GPO can assist agencies in ensuring that their information products are made available to the public through depository libraries. Making agency information available through the FDLP fulfills public dissemination mandates and ensures that the information is maintained for permanent access, all at no cost to the agency. Among the services that GPO can provide to Federal agencies are:

Information Dissemination Services

Disseminate agency electronic information products via GPO Access on-line services.

Distribute tangible products to depository libraries at no cost to the agency if produced or procured through GPO.

Cataloging and Locator Services

Catalog agency information products in a standard library format for entry into a national bibliographic utility and individual library on-line catalogs nationwide.

Persistent identifiers and other locator tools available from GPO Access enable users to locate and connect to information at agency Internet sites.

Coordinate with agencies to provide bibliographic control of Government information products.

Agency information products are included in the National Bibliography of U.S. Government Publications.

Permanent Access Services

Coordinate with agencies, partner institutions, and participating depository libraries to assure that both tangible and remotely accessible electronic information products are maintained permanently for use by the originating agency and the public.

Store, maintain, and provide distributed permanent access to Government electronic information products.

Depository Library Services

Over 1,200 depository libraries across the Nation maintain Government information for public use and provide professional assistance for locating and using it.

These libraries provide a local capability for the public to access Government on-line electronic information services, allowing the agencies to reach a wider audience.

More than 50 regional depository libraries maintain permanent collections of all tangible products.


GPO employs multiple approaches to making agency electronic information products available to the public by incorporating all types of Government information products into the FDLP. One of the ways in which GPO can bring electronic Government information products into the FDLP is to obtain agencies' electronic source files for various agency information products.

When an agency publishes an information product on its own electronic information service, GPO will direct users to that product. When an agency ceases to offer remotely accessible public access to an information product within the scope of the FDLP, GPO can use the electronic source files in order to provide permanent access through the FDLP. GPO may receive such files from the originating agency, or as a by-product of replication contracts administered by GPO. These files can be made available through GPO Access services.


Although GPO can accept virtually all popular electronic formats, electronic source files in PostScript (PS) or Standardized General Markup Language (SGML), ASCII format, and Press Optimized PDF are preferred. GPO will ensure that electronic files mounted on servers are made available to the public and comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act (P.L. 101-336) and the Rehabilitation Act (P.L. 102-529).

Source files for agency information products should reflect the latest authoritative version of the text. The files may be provided to GPO facilities via file transfer protocol (FTP), Internet download, telnet, or floppy disk, CD-ROM or DVD-ROM.


When an agency initiates, terminates, or substantially modifies an information product available via the Internet or other electronic government information service, GPO should be notified in order to update the cataloging and locator information or, if necessary, work with the agency to ensure permanent access. An interactive form has been placed on GPO’s Web site for this purpose, and agencies are invited to visit and use it. The form is available at


For additional information, clarification, or assistance about providing electronic products through the Federal Depository Library Program, please contact your GPO Account Representative, the staff in GPO's Regional Printing and Procurement Offices, or the following staff of the Library Services and Content Management.

Content Acquisitions
Library Services & Content Management
Mail Stop: IDAD
U.S. Government Printing Office
Washington, DC 20401
Telephone: 202-512-1071
Fax: 202-512-1636



Managing Director, Customer Services


As used in this letter -
"Agency" means any Federal Government department, including any military department, independent regulatory agency, Government corporation, Government controlled corporation, or other establishment in the executive, legislative, or judicial branch.

"Depository library" means a library, designated under the provisions of 44 U.S.C. Chapter 19, which maintains tangible Government information products for use by the general public, offers professional assistance in locating and using Government information, and provides local capability for the general public to access Government electronic information services.

The "Federal Depository Library Program" is a nationwide geographically dispersed system, established under the provisions of 44 U.S.C. Chapter 19 and administered by the Superintendent of Documents, consisting of libraries acting in partnership with the Federal Government for the purpose of enabling the general public to have local access to Federal Government information at no cost.

"Government electronic information service" means the system or method by which an agency or its authorized agent provides public access to Government information products via a telecommunications network.

"Government information" means Government publications, or other Government information products, regardless of form or format, created or compiled by employees of a Government agency, or at Government expense, or as required by law.

"Government information product" means a discrete set of Government information, either conveyed in a tangible physical format including electronic media, or made publicly accessible via a Government electronic information service.

"Permanent access" means that Government information products within the scope of the FDLP remain available for continuous, no fee public access through the program. For emphasis, the phrase "permanent public access" is sometimes used with the same definition.

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