“It’s kind of tiny bits of waste coming from dozens of other agencies, so its kind of hard to see,” he said.
The GAO estimated that the majority of government documents were available from other sources, and that 74 percent of the sample reports they searched for could be found outside NTIS. In fact, investigators found the website that provided access to the most government reports was www.google.com.
Mr. Wallach said that things like the Wastebook and watchdog reports often call attention to wasteful spending, but that it’s ultimately up to Congress to fix the issues and “take the ball over the finish line.” Currently, he said, there’s no legislation being debated in either chamber to defund or reform NTIS.
“Unfortunately, the Congress passes fewer bills now than in any time in recent memory,” he said.
As technology changes, as with the development of the Internet, government needs to respond, Mr. Wallach said.
“Congress is supposed to be the dynamic engine that’s at the heart of adapting to changing conditions,” he said. “Doing that kind of small incremental work isn’t always glamorous, but when you’re looking at ways of improving things, it’s a matter of getting cooperation to get things done.”