The federal government now knows more than it did a decade ago but is keeping more to itself, according to Washing Researchers.
The research and publishing firm recently released its latest federal information and federal press release indexes, showing that since 1971 the data generated by the government has increased by 96 percent but that its efforts to make the information public -- as measured by the number of press releases issued -- has decreased by 26 percent.
The researchers conclude that the government "devotes very little of its resources to advertise the availability, usually at low cost, of information."
The information index is comprised of seven indicators, with the spending levels all computed in 1971 dollars for purposes of comparison: Government Printing Office spending, spending on congressional spending on current statistical programs, spending on research and development, the number of government computers, the number of pages in the Federal Register, and the number of National Technical Information Service new publications.
The press release index is a composite of releases issued by nine federal departments and agencies. Only two of the nine had increases in the past 10 years -- the Civil Aeronautics Board, which showed a 19 percent rise, and the Labor Department, with a 27 percent increase.
The press release index stayed relatively stable through 1976, when it stood at 103 (with the 1971 level representing the base of 100), but then declined steadily to the 1980 rate of 73.7.
The information index, on the other hand, rose steadily throughout the entire period to its 1980 level of 196.4.
"In practical terms, this means that the government puts out a massive amount of information, but few people know about it," the researchers concluded.