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Subscriptions and News Clippings: Expenditures and Related Information Reported by Federal Organizations (Letter Report, 06/27/97, GAO/GGD-97-99).

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on
executive branch expenditures for both subscriptions and news clippings
operations in fiscal year (FY) 1996, focusing on: (1) the number of
subscription copies of selected major newspapers that are normally used
to prepare news clippings products; (2) the employee benefits reported
from subscriptions and news clippings products; (3) whether guidance is
provided to employees about procuring subscriptions and producing and
distributing news clippings products; and (4) whether the departments
and agencies have made or plan to make changes to improve their
subscriptions procurement processes and news clippings operations.
Because of the broad scope and relatively short timeframe for completing
the review, GAO did not independently verify the accuracy of the
information provided.

GAO noted that: (1) for FY 1996, 42 federal organizations reported
estimated expenditures of about $73 million for subscriptions to
newspapers, magazines, periodicals, and automated news services and
about $8 million for news clippings operations; (2) although federal
organizations provided GAO with these expenditure data, it should be
emphasized that some of these data are estimates only; (3) federal
organizations do not typically account for these expenditures separately
from other types of expenditures, and some reporting officials told GAO
they had difficulty making accurate estimates; (4) federal organizations
reported procuring multiple copies of major newspapers, such as The
Washington Post, that are normally used to prepare news clippings
products; (5) while a few federal organizations reported procuring 1 or
2 copies of these major newspapers, other organizations reported
procuring over 200 copies of 1 of more of the newspapers; (6) federal
organizations generally reported that subscriptions and news clippings
products benefit their employees and increase productivity; (7) the
procurement of subscriptions by executive agencies, like the acquisition
of other services, is covered under the Federal Acquisition Regulation;
(8) twenty-eight organizations responding to GAO's survey, or at least 1
of their components, reported having guidance for procuring
subscriptions; (9) twenty-two of the 28 federal organizations reported
providing organization-specific guidance, such as requiring management
approval to ensure that the subscriptions are mission-related; (10)
furthermore, 24 federal organizations, or at least 1 of their
components, reported having guidance on how news clippings products
should be produced and distributed in the organization, such as sending
the news clippings products only to high-level officials; (11) several
federal organizations noted recent or planned actions to improve their
subscriptions procurement processes or preparation of their news
clippings products; and (12) these actions included reducing overall
spending on subscriptions, centralizing the subscription process,
eliminating subscriptions to electronic wire services in favor of
available Internet services, and changing news clippings products from
paper copies to the electronic media.

--------------------------- Indexing Terms -----------------------------

 REPORTNUM:  GGD-97-99
     TITLE:  Subscriptions and News Clippings: Expenditures and Related 
             Information Reported by Federal Organizations
      DATE:  06/27/97
   SUBJECT:  Periodicals
             Budget outlays
             Federal procurement
             Procurement procedures
             Executive agencies
             Cost control
             Telecommunication
             Agency missions
IDENTIFIER:  Internet
             
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Cover
================================================================ COVER


Report to the Chairmen, Committee on Appropriations and Committee on
Governmental Affairs, U.S.  Senate

June 1997

SUBSCRIPTIONS AND NEWS CLIPPINGS -
EXPENDITURES AND RELATED
INFORMATION REPORTED BY FEDERAL
ORGANIZATIONS

GAO/GGD-97-99

Subscriptions and News Clippings

(410040)


Abbreviations
=============================================================== ABBREV

  FAR - Federal Acquisition Regulation
  FCC - Federal Communications Commission
  FDIC - Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
  GSA - General Services Administration
  NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  OMB - Office of Management and Budget
  SEC - Securities and Exchange Commission
  U.S.C.  - United States Code

Letter
=============================================================== LETTER


B-272705

June 27, 1997

The Honorable Ted Stevens
Chairman, Committee on Appropriations
United States Senate

The Honorable Fred Thompson
Chairman, Committee on Governmental Affairs
United States Senate

Federal departments and agencies subscribe to newspapers, magazines,
periodicals, and automated news services to enable their employees to
keep informed of current developments relating to the activities of
their organizations.  As another method of keeping these employees
informed of such developments, many departments and agencies also
produce news clippings products.\1 This report responds to your
request for information on executive branch expenditures\2 for both
subscriptions and news clippings operations in fiscal year 1996. 

As agreed with your offices, this report also provides department and
agency information on (1) the number of subscription copies of
selected major newspapers that are normally used to prepare news
clippings products, (2) the employee benefits reported from
subscriptions and news clippings products, (3) whether guidance is
provided to employees about procuring subscriptions and producing and
distributing news clippings products, and (4) whether the departments
and agencies have made or plan to make changes to improve their
subscriptions procurement processes and news clippings operations. 

To obtain the requested information, we sent data collection forms to
14 executive branch departments and 29 of the independent agencies
that had 500 employees or more (hereafter referred to as federal
organizations).  As agreed, however, because of the broad scope and
relatively short timeframe for completing our review, we did not
independently verify the accuracy of the information provided.  We
also did not validate the benefits reported by the federal
organizations.  The data provided by the federal organizations ranged
from actual expenditures to estimates that were based on only a few
of the organizational components.  Furthermore, one federal
organization\3 did not respond to our survey.  Also, two federal
organizations\4 provided 1995 data because they were included as a
part of our survey pretest before 1996 data were available, but we
included these organizations in our analysis. 

Our work was conducted in Washington, D.C., from May 1996 to May
1997, in accordance with generally accepted government auditing
standards.  Appendix I is a more detailed discussion of our
objectives, scope, and methodology. 

On May 2, 1997, we requested comments on a draft of this report from
the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).  On June
19, 1997, OMB's Acting Associate Director for Administration told us
OMB had no comments on the draft report. 


--------------------
\1 News clippings products are generally prepared by government
employees' cutting out articles of particular interest to their
organization, which are then reproduced and disseminated to others in
the organization.  News clippings products may also be obtained by
contracting out for this service. 

\2 Expenditures for subscriptions include payments for newspapers,
magazines, periodicals, and automated news services.  Expenditures
for news clippings operations include the following elements: 
personnel, subscriptions, duplication/copying, distribution, and
contracted services. 

\3 As of May 30, 1997, the Department of State had not responded to
our request for information. 

\4 The Departments of Commerce and Transportation provided fiscal
year 1995 data. 


   RESULTS IN BRIEF
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :1

For fiscal year 1996, 42 federal organizations reported estimated
expenditures of about $73 million for subscriptions to newspapers,
magazines, periodicals, and automated news services and about $8
million for news clippings operations.  Although federal
organizations provided us with these expenditure data, it should be
emphasized that some of these data are estimates only.  Federal
organizations do not typically account for these expenditures
separately from other types of expenditures, and some reporting
officials told us they had difficulty making accurate estimates. 

Federal organizations reported procuring multiple copies of major
newspapers, such as The Washington Post, that are normally used to
prepare news clippings products.  While a few federal organizations
reported procuring 1 or 2 copies of these major newspapers, other
organizations reported procuring over 200 copies of 1 or more of the
newspapers. 

Federal organizations generally reported that subscriptions and news
clippings products benefit their employees and increase productivity. 
Federal organizations cited several examples of these benefits, such
as providing employees with current information, being a valuable
research tool, providing leads for starting agency investigations,
supporting their organizations' mission of providing services to
citizens, and providing senior staff with information to respond to
inquiries by reporters about recent events. 

The procurement of subscriptions by executive agencies, like the
acquisition of other services, is covered under the Federal
Acquisition Regulation (FAR).\5 Twenty-eight of the federal
organizations responding to our survey, or at least 1 of their
components, reported having guidance for procuring subscriptions. 
Twenty-two of the 28 federal organizations reported providing
organization-specific guidance, such as requiring management approval
to ensure that the subscriptions are mission-related.  Furthermore,
24 federal organizations, or at least 1 of their components, reported
having guidance on how news clippings products should be produced and
distributed in the organization, such as sending the news clippings
products only to high-level officials. 

Several federal organizations noted recent or planned actions to
improve their subscriptions procurement processes or preparation of
their news clippings products.  These actions included reducing
overall spending on subscriptions, centralizing the subscription
process, eliminating subscriptions to electronic wire services in
favor of available Internet services, and changing news clippings
products from paper copies to the electronic media. 


--------------------
\5 FAR Subpart 2.1 defines an executive agency as (1) an executive
department, military department, or any independent establishment as
stated or defined in 5 U.S.C.  101, 102, and 104(1), and (2) any
wholly owned government corporation listed in 31 U.S.C.  9101. 


   BACKGROUND
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :2

As a means of disseminating information to their employees, most
federal organizations expend funds on subscriptions to newspapers,
magazines, and periodicals and often to automated news services. 
Most federal organizations use a portion of their subscriptions to
prepare news clippings products for distribution to their employees. 
The subscriptions reported by the federal organizations showed a
variety of business, scientific and technical, and government
publications that pertain specifically to their organizations'
missions, while other publications are more general in nature.  For
example, business publications procured by the Securities and
Exchange Commission (SEC) included the American Banker and Business
Week, scientific and technical publications procured by the National
Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) included Space News and
Robotics World, government publications procured by the Smithsonian
Institution included the Congressional Yellow Book and the Federal
Staff Directory, and general publications procured by the Department
of the Air Force included Quality Management and a variety of local
newspapers. 

OMB has responsibility for oversight of executive branch
expenditures, but federal organizations are not required to
specifically identify subscriptions expenditures as a part of their
appropriations requests.  However, federal organizations are
authorized to spend appropriated funds to procure subscriptions to
assist in performing their missions.\6 The FAR provides federal
organizations with uniform policies and procedures for acquiring
goods and services, which include the procurement of subscriptions. 


--------------------
\6 Under 31 U.S.C.  3324 (d)(2), agencies are expressly authorized to
use appropriated funds to purchase subscriptions without violating
the advance payment prohibition set forth in this section. 


   RESPONDING FEDERAL
   ORGANIZATIONS REPORTED
   ESTIMATED EXPENDITURES FOR
   SUBSCRIPTIONS AND NEWS
   CLIPPINGS OPERATIONS
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :3

For fiscal year 1996,\7 federal organizations responding to our
survey reported estimated expenditures of $73.3 million on
subscriptions to newspapers, magazines, periodicals, and automated
news services and $7.7 million for news clippings operations.  These
two totals should not be combined because some of the subscription
expenditures were also included as expenditures for news clippings
products. 

Furthermore, the nature of the data received from the federal
organizations varied greatly, ranging from actual expenditures to
estimates of a sample of organizational components.  Many federal
organizations indicated that their figures were estimates because
expenditure totals for subscriptions and/or news clippings operations
were not readily available.  Some federal organizations, such as the
Department of Justice and NASA, told us that these expenditures do
not have an object class in the budget and are often decentralized
within the federal organizations.  Also, some federal organizations,
such as the Department of Health and Human Services and the General
Services Administration (GSA), said that their employees use credit
cards to purchase subscriptions, which makes tracking expenditures
even more difficult because subscriptions cannot easily be
distinguished from other types of purchases. 

As of May 30, 1997, we had received responses from 42 of the 43
federal organizations we surveyed.  The Department of State did not
respond to our survey.  When reporting its expenditures, the
Executive Office of the President only provided information for its
two components with the most employees--the White House and OMB. 
Also, GSA provided information only on a sample of its components,
and the results of that sample could not be projected to the entire
agency; therefore, GSA's reported expenditures are understated. 

Table 1 shows the 43 federal organizations that we surveyed and their
reported expenditures for subscriptions and news clippings operations
for fiscal year 1996. 



                                Table 1
                
                    Expenditures Reported by Federal
                Organizations for Subscriptions and News
                 Clippings Operations, Fiscal Year 1996

                         (Dollars in thousands)

                                                 Fiscal year 1996
                                                   expenditures
                                            --------------------------
                                                                  News
                                            Subscription     clippings
Federal organization                                   s    operations
------------------------------------------  ------------  ------------
Agency for International Development              $400.7         $65.2
Armed Forces Retirement Home                        30.6             0
Commodity Futures Trading Commission               415.8         153.4
Corporation for National Service                     6.0          16.9
Department of Agriculture                        8,066.9         664.8
Department of Commerce\a                           500.2         380.8
Department of Defense                            4,690.9         922.9
Department of Education                            826.4         318.6
Department of Energy                            13,387.8         524.7
Department of Health and Human Services          9,455.0         295.4
Department of Housing and Urban                  1,202.3         194.3
 Development
Department of the Interior                       4,238.6         263.3
Department of Justice                            7,714.1         517.7
Department of Labor                              1,067.4         346.7
Department of State                                   \b            \b
Department of Transportation\a                      67.0         221.9
Department of the Treasury                       6,099.0         376.3
Department of Veterans Affairs                     312.6          98.0
Environmental Protection Agency                  1,577.2         282.5
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission             50.9          25.0
Executive Office of the President\\c               365.9         201.0
Federal Communications Commission                  262.0          79.7
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation              936.5          46.0
Federal Emergency Management Agency                 87.0          61.3
Federal Reserve System                             723.7           1.5
Federal Trade Commission                           418.3          42.5
General Services Administration\d                   79.8          57.8
National Aeronautics and Space                   2,749.5         115.9
 Administration
National Archives and Records                       93.0          25.3
 Administration
National Credit Union Administration                37.5           4.5
National Labor Relations Board                     194.7          42.0
National Science Foundation                        101.2          44.9
Nuclear Regulatory Commission                      423.4         144.5
Office of Personnel Management                     170.9          52.8
Peace Corps                                        314.7           8.0
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation               183.4          70.3
Railroad Retirement Board                           49.2             0
Securities and Exchange Commission               1,458.1         142.7
Small Business Administration                       75.0          19.0
Smithsonian Institution                            789.0          48.1
Social Security Administration                     782.7         230.0
Tennessee Valley Authority                         345.2          63.7
United States Information Agency                 2,589.9         539.3
======================================================================
Total                                          $73,340.0    $7,709.4\e
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Note:  The totals for subscriptions and news clippings should not be
added together because some of the subscriptions expenditures are
also included as news clippings expenditures. 

\a The Departments of Commerce and Transportation provided fiscal
year 1995 data. 

\b The Department of State did not respond to our survey. 

\c The Executive Office of the President reported data only for the
White House and OMB. 

\d GSA provided data for only a sample of components; therefore, the
results cannot be projected to the entire agency. 

\e Total does not add due to rounding. 

Source:  Federal organization responses to the GAO survey. 


--------------------
\7 The Departments of Transportation and Commerce provided fiscal
year 1995 expenditures because these federal organizations were a
part of our pretest, which was done before fiscal year 1996 figures
were available. 


   RESPONDING FEDERAL
   ORGANIZATIONS REPORTED
   PROCURING MULTIPLE COPIES OF
   SOME NEWSPAPERS
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :4

Federal organizations responding to our survey reported receiving
multiple copies of the same newspapers that were used to produce news
clippings products.  These subscription copies were generally
provided to the federal organization's management officials with some
copies of the newspapers going to the organization's libraries and
other centralized locations.  We specifically looked at federal
organizations' subscriptions to three major newspapers (The Wall
Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The New York Times) since
these newspapers were almost always used by federal organizations in
their news clippings operations. 

Table 2 shows the number of copies of these newspapers that we were
able to identify from the data each federal organization provided for
fiscal year 1996.  These newspapers usually made up only a small
portion of a federal organization's subscriptions because most of the
subscriptions were for periodicals that appeared to be either
mission-related (such as professional and technical journals) or more
general in nature.  For example, at the Department of Energy's
headquarters technical library, only about $39,000 (or 4 percent) of
its $970,000 in total reported expenditures on subscriptions was for
the newspapers it procured in fiscal year 1996. 



                                     Table 2
                     
                      Estimated Number of Copies of Selected
                          Newspapers Procured by Federal
                         Organizations, Fiscal Year 1996

                                                 Number of procured newspaper
                                                            copies
                                              ----------------------------------
                                                                 The
                                                The Wall
                                                  Street  Washington     The New
Federal organization                             Journal        Post  York Times
--------------------------------------------  ----------  ----------  ----------
Agency for International Development                  19           4           6
Armed Forces Retirement Home                           3           2           1
Commodity Futures Trading Commission                  25          13          10
Corporation for National Service                       1           1           1
Department of Agriculture                             71          40          24
Department of Commerce\a                              91          39          58
Department of Defense                                126         121          55
Department of Education                               17          20          16
Department of Energy                                 200          55          70
Department of Health and Human Services               45          67          72
Department of Housing and Urban Development           46          50          45
Department of the Interior                            31          34          23
Department of Justice                                231         151         192
Department of Labor                                   62          20          32
Department of State                                   \b          \b          \b
Department of Transportation\a                        16          19          16
Department of the Treasury                           285          97         119
Department of Veterans Affairs                        17           2           3
Environmental Protection Agency                       39          47          33
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission                6           8           8
Executive Office of the President\c                   64          76          70
Federal Communications Commission                     13           7           8
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation                399           1           2
Federal Emergency Management Agency                    5           6           8
Federal Reserve System                               104          15          63
Federal Trade Commission                              45          14          10
General Services Administration\d                      3           1           0
National Aeronautics and Space                        42          63          45
 Administration
National Archives and Records Administration           3           5           3
National Credit Union Administration                   0           0           0
National Labor Relations Board                         2           2           2
National Science Foundation                           11           8          13
Nuclear Regulatory Commission                         24          18          22
Office of Personnel Management                        23          33          20
Peace Corps                                            2           3           3
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation                  28           6           5
Railroad Retirement Board                              8           1           1
Securities and Exchange Commission                    66          13          31
Small Business Administration                         32          18          14
Smithsonian Institution                               10          14          18
Social Security Administration                         6          15           4
Tennessee Valley Authority                             8           3           5
United States Information Agency                     304         470         468
================================================================================
Total                                              2,533       1,582       1,599
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Note:  Totals include subscriptions that were for daily (Monday
through Friday) or more frequently; Sunday only, etc., subscriptions
were not included. 

\a The Departments of Commerce and Transportation provided fiscal
year 1995 data. 

\b The Department of State did not respond to our survey. 

\c The Executive Office of the President reported data only for the
White House and OMB. 

\d GSA provided data from only a sample of components; therefore, the
results cannot be projected to the entire agency. 

Source:  Federal organization responses to the GAO survey. 


   RESPONDING FEDERAL
   ORGANIZATIONS CITED BENEFITS OF
   SUBSCRIPTIONS AND NEWS
   CLIPPINGS PRODUCTS
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :5

In our survey, we asked federal organizations to describe any
benefits to their employees of providing subscriptions to newspapers,
magazines, and periodicals and producing their news clippings
products.  Federal organizations that responded to this question
generally said that subscriptions and news clippings products help
provide their employees with information necessary to perform their
jobs.  However, some organizations provided the following more
specific benefits.  For example: 

  -- SEC estimated that approximately 16 percent of all active SEC
     investigations began with a lead from the news media. 

  -- The Tennessee Valley Authority said that there is a compelling
     need for timely information in the changing utility industry. 

  -- The Department of Education noted that news clippings products
     provide senior staff with information to respond to inquiries by
     reporters about recent events. 

  -- The Commodity Futures Trading Commission said that, in addition
     to keeping its staff current, its news clippings products
     provide a valuable research tool that is also used by other
     government agencies. 

  -- The National Science Foundation reported that its highly
     technical employees would find it almost impossible to
     effectively carry out its mission without access to the many
     specialized journals available through subscriptions. 

  -- According to one of Energy's laboratories, its subscriptions
     give employees fast, convenient access to information contained
     in primarily scientific and engineering professional journals
     that report research findings. 

  -- The library at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center reported that
     subscriptions provide employees with access to scientific and
     engineering publications that are essential to Goddard's role as
     NASA's Lead Center for Scientific Research. 

According to some federal organizations, providing subscriptions to
their customers is a part of their missions.  The Armed Forces
Retirement Home said that the vast majority of its subscriptions are
provided for its residents, not its employees.  The Office of
Personnel Management's Eastern Management Development Center noted
that subscription copies are used in its seminars and as reading
references for training participants.  Also, several of the schools
within the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs
noted that newspapers, magazines, and periodicals are used by their
students as learning tools and by their teachers as instructional
tools. 


   SOME REPORTING FEDERAL
   ORGANIZATIONS HAD GUIDANCE FOR
   OBTAINING SUBSCRIPTIONS AND
   DISSEMINATING NEWS CLIPPINGS
   PRODUCTS
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :6

When responding to our survey, 28 federal organizations, or at least
1 of their components, reported that they had guidance for procuring
subscriptions.\8 The procurement of subscriptions by executive
agencies, like the acquisition of other services, is covered under
the FAR;\9 however, some federal organizations said that they also
had their own specific guidance in place.  The following 28
organizations reported having guidance: 

Department of Agriculture
Department of Commerce
Department of Defense
Department of Education
Department of Energy
Department of Health and Human Services
Department of Housing and Urban Development
Department of the Interior
Department of Justice
Department of Labor
Department of the Treasury
Department of Veterans Affairs
Environmental Protection Agency
Executive Office of the President
Federal Communications Commission
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
Federal Emergency Management Agency
Federal Trade Commission
General Services Administration
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
National Archives and Records Administration
National Labor Relations Board
Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Office of Personnel Management
Railroad Retirement Board
Smithsonian Institution
Social Security Administration
United States Information Agency

Of the 28 federal organizations that reported having guidance, 3
referred to general guidance such as the FAR, and 3 indicated that
they had unwritten guidance or provided no documentation of it.  The
remaining 22 federal organizations provided copies of their
organization-specific detailed guidance.  For example, several of the
federal organizations provided the following information: 

  -- The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) provided a copy of
     its directive called the Periodical Subscription Management
     Program.\10 This directive specifies that (1) subscriptions to
     periodicals for direct delivery to Commission offices are to be
     limited to those essential for the work of the office and (2)
     since employees in the Commission's bureaus and offices have
     access to assorted publications and newspapers via electronic
     databases on their computers, general interest, academic, trade,
     and loose-leaf publications are not to be purchased if they are
     available on-line. 

  -- The Nuclear Regulatory Commission, in its manual on library
     services,\11 states that the library is to acquire primarily
     advanced books and journals containing information and data the
     Commission staff need to perform official functions.  The
     library also is to obtain news-type publications describing
     recent events or developments of interest to Commission staff. 

  -- The Department of Labor has an internal manual section\12 that
     addresses the specific numbers of copies of certain newspapers
     (such as The Washington Post) and magazines (such as Time and
     Newsweek) that can be purchased by officials at headquarters and
     in the regions.  Purchases of these publications are limited
     because employees already have access to them through news
     clippings products prepared by the Office of Information and
     Public Affairs. 

Furthermore, 24 federal organizations, or at least 1 of their
components, reported having organization-specific guidance for who is
to receive copies of news clippings products.  This guidance was
usually not a formally written document.  For example, the Social
Security Administration reported that its guidance is set at the
discretion of the Press Officer, and that currently news clippings
products are distributed to Associate Commissioners and executive
staff.  The following federal organizations reported having news
clippings guidance: 

Agency for International Development
Department of Agriculture
Department of Commerce
Department of Defense
Department of Health and Human Services
Department of Housing and Urban Development
Department of the Interior
Department of Justice
Department of Labor
Department of Veterans Affairs
Environmental Protection Agency
Executive Office of the President
Federal Communications Commission
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
National Archives and Records Administration
National Credit Union Administration
National Science Foundation
Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Office of Personnel Management
Small Business Administration
Social Security Administration
Tennessee Valley Authority
United States Information Agency


--------------------
\8 Some of these federal organizations used the term "guidance" to
refer to the FAR.  However, the FAR, when applicable, is more than
guidance because it has the force and effect of law. 

\9 The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Federal Reserve
System are not covered by the FAR. 

\10 FCC Directive FCCINST 1103.1, January 29, 1996. 

\11 NRC Manual, Chapter NRC-0214, Library Services, September 27,
1982. 

\12 Department of Labor Manual, DLMS-2-1218, January 1983. 


   RESPONDING FEDERAL
   ORGANIZATIONS CITED EFFORTS TO
   IMPROVE SUBSCRIPTIONS
   PROCUREMENT PROCESSES AND NEWS
   CLIPPINGS OPERATIONS
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :7

Several federal organizations cited actions and/or plans to improve
their subscriptions procurement process or their news clippings
operations.  For example, two federal organizations specifically
mentioned centralizing their subscriptions processes.  As a result of
centralizing its subscription procurement process, the Federal Trade
Commission reported having reduced duplication and increased sharing
of resources by routing many publications and information to several
staff members.  The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)
reported having centralized its subscriptions acquisition process for
cost and labor savings.  FDIC also said its library has full-text
stories on-line; contracts are pending to put other stories on-line;
and the library plans to examine its number of subscriptions to
printed newspapers. 

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said it is planning to
eliminate its Associated Press newswire service, which costs $28,000,
in favor of the Internet services currently available from more than
55 newspapers.  The National Labor Relations Board said that,
beginning with fiscal year 1997, its subscription to the Daily Labor
report changed from paper copies, which cost $176,820, to electronic
copies, which will cost $36,000, a savings of $140,820.  The Railroad
Retirement Board reported that as a result of a major review of all
subscriptions it has reduced its spending on subscriptions by $30,000
(21 percent) since fiscal year 1994. 

The Agency for International Development said that its labor costs
for news clippings products had declined and distribution had
increased with the use of on-line services.  Paper copies of press
clips are delivered to the Administrator's morning senior staff
meeting only.  Employees may visit the press office and make their
own copies; press clips are also available daily via E-mail and
agency intranet. 

Several federal organizations, or one of their components, said they
were considering automating their news clippings operations in some
manner (e.g., to use local area networks, E-mail, or the Internet). 
These organizations included the following:  the Department of
Education; the Department of Health and Human Services' National
Institutes of Health; the Department of the Treasury's Bureau of
Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; the Tennessee Valley Authority; the
Securities and Exchange Commission; the National Science Foundation;
and the Corporation for National Service. 


---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :7.1

We are sending copies of this report to the Director of the Office of
Management and Budget, the Secretaries of each executive department,
the head of each independent agency, and the Ranking Minority Members
of your Committees.  Copies will be made available to others on
request. 

Major contributors to this report are listed in appendix II.  If you
have any questions concerning this report, please call me on (202)
512-4232. 

Bernard L.  Ungar
Associate Director, Federal Management
 and Workforce Issues


OBJECTIVES, SCOPE, AND METHODOLOGY
=========================================================== Appendix I

As agreed with your offices, our objectives were to identify the
following information on the executive branch departments and largest
independent agencies:  (1) the total expenditures for subscriptions
to newspapers, magazines, and periodicals as well as automated news
services for fiscal year 1996; (2) the total expenditures associated
with news clippings operations for fiscal year 1996; (3) the number
of subscriptions federal organizations received of selected major
newspapers; (4) the benefits federal organizations said their
employees receive from both subscriptions and news clippings
products; (5) whether federal organizations provided guidance for the
procurement of subscriptions and the production and distribution of
news clippings products; and (6) any examples of changes federal
organizations have made or plan to make to improve their
subscriptions procurement processes and news clippings operations. 

We chose the 14 executive branch departments and 29 independent
agencies that had 500 employees or more (according to Office of
Personnel Management data of Jan.  1996) because these federal
organizations were the most likely to have the largest share of
expenditures for subscriptions and news clippings operations.  We
developed and pretested a data collection form to obtain this
information from two federal organizations before sending the final
version of the survey to the entire universe.  Because of the number
of federal organizations involved and the timeframe we were asking
for their responses, we delivered the majority of our surveys by hand
or by Express Mail on November 1, 1996. 

In our survey, we asked each federal organization for its fiscal year
1996 expenditures and other related information for subscriptions and
news clippings operations.  We specifically asked that all federal
organization components be included, even field offices.  Our only
exceptions on obtaining fiscal year 1996 expenditures were for the
Departments of Commerce and Transportation.  We pretested our survey
at these two departments using fiscal year 1995 expenditures since
the fiscal year 1996 expenditures were not yet available.  Because of
the difficulty Commerce and Transportation had in obtaining this
information, we did not request that they update their figures for
fiscal year 1996.  However, we did ask Commerce and Transportation
officials if they believed that their fiscal year 1996 figures would
be substantially different from their fiscal year 1995 figures, and
they said they did not. 

The federal organizations responded to our survey using a variety of
formats and levels of completeness.  For example, some federal
organizations prepared detailed, consolidated lists of subscriptions
by component, while other organizations submitted voluminous copies
of individual procurement requests for subscriptions, with no
organizationwide consolidation.  Also, some federal organizations
provided complete and detailed responses by component to all items in
our survey, but others did not.  For example, one department
submitted information that was not tabulated accurately at either the
component- or department-level.  In this case, we obtained the
department's agreement with our tabulation of its information. 

Many federal organization responses required some follow-up.  If we
had questions about the submissions, we contacted organization
officials for clarification.  However, we did not independently
verify the accuracy of the information provided.  Some federal
organizations noted that their figures were difficult to obtain and
were estimates because (1) organizations had no separate budget line
item for subscription purchases or news clippings operations, (2)
decentralized operations made it difficult to collect such data, and
(3) the use of credit cards for subscription purchases made it
difficult to track those expenditures. 

To address our objectives, we processed the federal organizations'
responses as follows: 

  -- For our expenditure totals for subscriptions and news clippings
     operations, we used the figures from the federal organization's
     summary section.  Even though a few subscriptions were for
     multiple years, we included the entire amount of expenditures if
     it was made in fiscal year 1996. 

  -- From the listings of federal organization subscriptions, where
     possible, we counted the number of subscription copies each
     organization received of three selected major newspapers (The
     Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The New York
     Times), which were also the newspapers that most of the
     organizations used in their news clippings operations.  The
     federal organizations showed the subscriptions in a number of
     forms--e.g., daily (Monday through Friday) or more frequently or
     Sunday only.  When tabulating our total number of subscription
     copies for a newspaper, we included only the subscriptions that
     were for daily or more frequent issues. 

  -- From narrative responses, we reviewed the benefits that federal
     organizations said they received from both subscriptions and
     news clippings products and used some of these responses as
     examples. 

  -- We reviewed the narrative responses for those federal
     organizations answering "yes" to our questions about whether
     they provided guidance to employees on procuring subscriptions
     and distributing news clippings products, and we used some of
     these responses as examples. 

  -- We reviewed the narrative responses for those agencies answering
     "yes" to our question about making or planning to make changes
     to their news clippings operations, and we used some of these
     responses as examples.  Some federal organizations also cited
     improvements that they were making in their subscription
     procurement processes, and we used examples of these as well. 


MAJOR CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS REPORT
========================================================== Appendix II


   GENERAL GOVERNMENT DIVISION,
   WASHINGTON, D.C. 
-------------------------------------------------------- Appendix II:1

James H.  Burow, Assistant Director
Michael W.  Jarvis, Evaluator-in-Charge
Warren Smith, Senior Evaluator
Thomas M.  Beall, Social Science Analyst
Stuart M.  Kaufman, Social Science Analyst
Vasiliki Theodoropoulos, Communications Analyst


   OFFICE OF THE GENERAL COUNSEL,
   WASHINGTON, D.C. 
-------------------------------------------------------- Appendix II:2

Susan Michal-Smith, Senior Attorney


   DALLAS FIELD OFFICE
-------------------------------------------------------- Appendix II:3

Linda J.  Libician, Senior Evaluator
James W.  Turkett, Senior Evaluator


*** End of document. ***