Thursday, July 29, 2010

Government Documents - by the people, for the people

People have asked me why I use Scribd and Slideshare for public documents instead of just linking to government websites. Well, many times government websites are not that easy to navigate and the documents are sometimes scattered over disparate sites and I aggregate the information and try to make it more accessible. Also the actual links can change over time, so the link to a document from a government website today may no longer work in the future.

Today I came across a perfect example. Documents are posted to the OFR Public Inspection Desk at http://www.ofr.gov/inspection.aspx prior to their publication in the Federal Register. These documents still have some proof reading by the OFR before publications to correct typographical errors, etc. After publication the link no longer works.

For instance if you go to the ONC web pages on meaningful use you will see that they currently have broken links pointing to the old documents at the Public Inspection Desk:
http://www.ofr.gov/OFRUpload/OFRData/2010-17207_PI.pdf and http://www.ofr.gov/OFRUpload/OFRData/2010-17210_PI.pdf

Now that the rule is published in the Federal Register the new link would be:

http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2010/pdf/2010-17207.pdf

I've asked the ONC to fix the pages with the old links, and I'm sure they will, [UPDATE (8/30/2010) - they have fixed the links] but that is why since these are all public documents owned by the American people I usually choose to store them on a third party site to maintain the integrity of my links. Take a look at my post on the meaningful use final rules the day they were released http://ahier.blogspot.com/2010/07/meaningful-definition.html ~ as noted the temporary links no longer work...
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