Daily Dose: Should Presidential Papers Go Paperless

When Hebert Hoover started the tradition of publishing the presidential papers it could have been considered the first act of open government. After all the papers were designed to make the president and his doings more publicly accessible. But as pointed out in the recent Washington Post story by Lisa Rein is it necessary for the presidential papers to still be published in leather bound copies?

The public papers of the president: Low-tech, high impact

I know it sounds crazy to be talking about the cost of a few books that the federal government churns out but seriously these books cost $50,000 a pop every 6 months… and no one is buying them.

The record of John F. Kennedy’s first year sold 22,000 copies. But the bestseller of the electronics-age presidency, the papers chronicling the Monica Lewinsky scandal during Bill Clinton’s second term, sold
just 740.”

Lisa’s article talks about how all the presidential papers are online regardless and easily accessible so why are we wasting money printing them? Is a souvenir really worth taxpayer money especially when we are putting salaries on ice?

“I’d be very sad if they stopped publishing” the print editions, he says. “But given the [budget] deficit of this country, I can see a day, sadly, when they are no longer important.”

I’m glad the presidential papers are still going storing with other open gov but it’s time we took them paperless?


“Daily Dose of the Washington Post” is a new blog series created by GovLoop in partnership with The Washington Post. If you see great stories in the Post and want to ask a question around it, please send them to [email protected].

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