of the Month: GPO Access
Susan B. Anders
MARCH 2005 - The
U.S. Government and Printing Office’s GPO Access website
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.
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.
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.
Access Resources by Branch
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.
“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.
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
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.
B. Anders, PhD, CPA, is an associate professor of
accounting at St. Bonaventure University.