Website of the Month: GPO Access

By Susan B. Anders

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MARCH 2005 - The U.S. Government and Printing Office’s GPO Access website (www.gpoaccess.gov) provides free access to official versions of a variety of federal government publications, an easy online ordering process, and links to other federal sites. The website is designed to be used by the general public, but several resources will interest professional accountants and tax practitioners. Most materials and links can be reached by several routes.

The homepage is organized into four major sections to help direct the user’s attention. The top of the homepage presents hyperlinks to resources, grouped by branch of the federal government. Below this are two search categories with drop-down menus: “GPO Access Resources by Topic” and “Federal-wide Resources.” The left side of the homepage includes hyperlinks to an A–Z resource list, to federal depository libraries, and to the U.S. Government Online Bookstore. The right side is dedicated to current featured items.

An outstanding feature of the GPO Access site is the ease-of-use of multiple options for keyword searches or browsing. Most of the subsidiary webpages also provide the linkage history, which can be used to return to any point in the search or to the homepage. The connections between webpages work cleanly and the documents open quickly.

GPO Access Resources by Branch

GPO Access provides hyperlinks to a variety of documents published by all three branches of government available for download or purchase. These documents can be reached through multiple routes, but the index at the top of the homepage is probably the easiest route. First-time users will find it helpful to click on the “view all” links under each of the three branches. Downloadable documents are generally available as HTML and PDF files.

Under “legislative resources,” tax professionals can find the text of recent legislation, like the Working Families Tax Relief Act of 2004 (Public Law 108-311) and the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 (Public Law 108-357), by using a keyword search or browsing by congressional session. Under “executive resources,” users can download and search single titles of the current and prior year Code of Federal Regulations (Title 26 contains the tax law). “Judicial resources” provides access to Supreme Court cases, and contains links to other federal courts, including the Tax Court Online.

Bookstore

The webpages for the U.S. Government Online Bookstore are different in appearance from the GPO Access site, and the bookstore has its own address (bookstore.gpo.gov). The left-hand menu presents links for store-specific items, such as best sellers and ordering information.
An interesting feature of the bookstore is the multiple options for locating a product. The website provides a user-friendly advanced keyword search of the bookstore’s catalog. The bookstore’s holdings can also be browsed by topic or collection.

Tax preparers will be interested in the “federal tax products/forms,” collection. Users can purchase selected current IRS tax forms in packages of 100, as well as selected IRS publications. A current federal tax products on CD-ROM includes official IRS data, current tax forms, instructions, publications, and prior-year forms.


Susan B. Anders, PhD, CPA, is an associate professor of accounting at St. Bonaventure University.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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