The federal data base finder Essay

Mathew Lesko, founder and president of Information USA, has made acareer of teling people how and where to get information from theFederal Government. In this directory, billed as the first of its kind,Information USA lists fand describes more than 3,000 Federal data basesand files, from Acid Rain (Oak Ridge National Laboratory) to WorldPopulation (Census Bureau) and includes many Bureau of Labor Statistics series. The authors acknowledge that direct access to many of theFederal data bases in limited to Government agencies, but suggest thatinformation from them sometimes is available from the producing agenciesat low or no cost. The book also lists machine-readable data tapesoffered for sale directly by Government agences and reports oncommercial vendors who re-sell Government information at a profit.

TheFederal Data Base Finder says that the Federal Government spendsbillions of dollars creating data but very little to inform the publicthat the data exist. Lesko and his associates have assembled much ofthat information and offer to share it with the public for $95.

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