Meet govinfo, GPO’s Next Generation of Access to Federal Government Information

The U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) launched govinfo as a public beta on February 3, 2016; it will eventually replace the FDsys public website. It is a modern, mobile-friendly website, with a focus on implementing feedback from users and improving overall search and access to content. Read our Q&A below to learn more.

The Evolution of Access  

The evolution of electronic access to U.S. Government information at GPO began in 1993 when GPO was issued a challenge to fulfill our mission like never before, in the form of Public Law 103-40, the GPO Electronic Information Access Enhancement Act. This bill was passed with the overwhelming support of the depository library community, whose millions of patrons nationwide have been among the beneficiaries of public access to an ever expanding universe of Government information.

This legislation expanded GPO’s scope to make publications available not just with ink on paper, but also in electronic form, leveraging the booming World Wide Web to put information in the hands of the public faster and more conveniently than ever. In response to this mandate, GPO launched GPO Access in 1994 with three applications and expanded to 45 applications by the time GPO Access was replaced by FDsys 15 years later.

FDsys was conceived, built, and implemented for GPO to meet the same expectations in the digital world for ensuring authenticity, preservation, and access of official U.S. Government documents as we had in the print world. When FDsys launched in 2009, its components included not just a website for public access but also an advanced search engine, a preservation repository, and a workflow for the automated authenticating of FDsys content and digital signing of PDF documents.

In the GPO Access era, we established the partnerships we have in making information available digitally: partnerships with the Library of Congress, the House and Senate, the Office of the Federal Register, Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, and a range of Federal agencies. Since the launch of FDsys, we’ve worked together to leverage available technologies to push the boundaries of what it means to have an open and transparent Government, making content available in XML format for bulk download starting with one collection in 2009 and growing to seven collections available through the FDsys bulk data repository.

We are also working together to make available the electronic Code of Federal Regulations (eCFR), mobile apps of the U.S. Budget and other publications, and the digitization of historic publications such as the Warren Commission Report, the Congressional Record, the Federal Register, and others.

GPO Access and then FDsys have been the only sites that provide permanent public access to the official versions of Government publications from all three branches of the Federal Government. What’s more, digital access has vastly decreased the costs of Keeping America Informed, GPO’s primary mission, while expanding that access exponentially, not only nationwide but worldwide. When GPO Access was first introduced, GPO was spending $17.6 million dollars to print and distribute Government publications to Federal depository libraries, the equivalent of about $27.4 million in today’s dollars. That cost has been reduced to about $8 million dollars annually, a reduction of over 70% in real economic terms.

Since the launch of FDsys, there have been more than two billion downloads of Government information products (that’s nine downloads a second), and we provide access today to more than 1.5 million titles.

GPO’s history of providing information in electronic form has now spanned 23 years since the groundbreaking 1993 legislation; GPO Access was the first generation, FDsys was the second generation, and now, GPO has launched the next generation, govinfo.

The Next Generation – govinfo

Read the following Q&A to learn about the new website, and visit us on govinfo for more information.

Is everything that is available on FDsys available on govinfo?

Right now, all content available on FDsys is available on govinfo by conducting searches and clicking the format links in the search results. You can get to any pdf, xml, text or any other content file that is available on FDsys.

However, not all browse pages or detail pages have been built yet for every collection. For a list of all collections and publications and how they are currently available, refer to our list of What's Available.

What are the differences between FDsys and govinfo?

The new front door to accessing the same official, preserved content that GPO has made available through FDsys for the last seven years is govinfo.gov. The new website has no impact on the content, metadata, preservation repository, application of digital signatures, or any other back-end processing.

You’ll find the same features on govinfo that you enjoy via FDsys, such as multiple ways to search and browse content and filter search results, but govinfo offers several new features including:

  • Responsive design for optimized display on mobile devices
  • Two new ways to browse – alphabetically and by category
  • A new, open-source search engine
  • An expandable and collapsible search widget on every page
  • More options for sharing pages and content on social media
  • An innovative Related Documents feature that makes it easier than ever to track information in documents that exist within the complex network of Federal publications

What is the Related Documents feature?

On select Content Details pages for a document, a “Related Documents” tab will display other documents within govinfo that have a functional relationship or reference to that particular document. The purpose of the Related Documents feature is to make it easy for users to navigate to associated content without having to conduct multiple searches or manually go into and read each document’s text. Currently, the following relationships are available:

  • Congressional Bills Details pages- Other bill versions of that legislation; Presidential Signing Statements and Remarks for the legislation from Compilation of Presidential Documents; Public Laws for the legislation; Statutes at Large document for the legislation; U.S. Code documents that reference the legislation
  • Public and Private Laws Details pages- Bill versions of that legislation; Presidential Signing Statements and Remarks for the legislation from the Compilation of Presidential Documents; Public or Private Law for the legislation; the Statutes at Large document for the legislation; U.S. Code documents that reference the legislation Compilation of Presidential Document Details pages- Bill versions for the legislation; Public Laws for the legislation
  • Federal Register Details pages- Other Federal Register rulemaking documents related via the same Regulatory ID Number, CFR documents reference by that Federal Register document

It’s important to note that you may not see any documents under the Related Documents tab. If related documents are not yet in the system for that document, the related documents feature has not yet been built for that document or collection, or metadata is not available in the system to support a relationship for that document.

Where can I learn more about govinfo and provide feedback?

Visit www.govinfo.gov to check out the new site and learn more about the new features and what’s available. You can also review our Help pages for a wealth of information on searching and browsing for content. We will be continuing to optimize the site design and features based on your feedback, so leave us a note by clicking Feedback in the top menu anywhere on the site. You can contact us about the new site in a variety of ways. We hope you enjoy this next generation of discovering and navigating U.S. Government information, and we look forward to your feedback.