The massive trove of technical reports at the National Technical Information Service, a branch of the Dept of Commerce, should be posted online for free public use to spur economic development and save agency operating expense. NTIS holds over 3 million government technical reports, written by government contractors and agency laboratories. All of these reports are unclassified and designated as public. A large fraction of the reports—and nearly all the recent reports—are stored by NTIS in electronic form.
Currently, NTIS charges very high, even prohibitive, prices for copies of these reports. Some of this is due to NTIS's legal obligation to recover certain costs.
As a result, this vast repository of knowledge, developed at taxpayer expense, remains inaccessible to the public.
Placing the NTIS collection of scientific and technical information on the internet for free public use, downloading and full-text searching would make this crown jewel holding of the federal government fully available.
Search engine spidering would allow internet searches in a way never before possible, permitting members of the public, including schools, businesses and government to mine this valuable information in new ways.
Currently, NTIS maintains an expensive infrastructure to market and sell these reports. Placing reports already available in electronic form online would reduce the need for that portion of the organization to perform those tasks and would likely cut costs.
Releasing such a massive trove of technical information into the public domain would undoubtedly create economic activity, jobs and new businesses, and would spur scientific and engineering development. The data will help researchers identify long-forgotten R&D to apply to today’s most pressing problems.