National Broadband Plan – A Hilarious but Sad example of TOSW Fail

I saw a tweet this morning from @CatoInstitute that led me to one of the most hilarious (or, well, pathetic) things I’ve ever seen.  Well, hilarious in the way that it is yet another prime example of government bureaucracy fail  Obviously, someone at the FCC got a task list and decided to plow through it without even considering if maybe, MAYBE, since a transparency is a GOAL, they should do this work transparently. Just to summarize so you know what I’m rambling about, the FCC has decided to execute some sort of “National Broadband Plan,” and now some of that work has been published.

I can’t possibly say it better than the author did in the article. I’ll just paste the link, and the quote from the article which stood out at me:

In a highly symbolic gesture, the Federal Communications Commission published the executive summary of its “National Broadband Plan” in one of the most opaque formats going: It’s a PDF scan of a printed document.

This means you can’t cut and paste the bullet point that says:

“Increase civic engagement by making government more open and transparent, creating a robust public media ecosystem and modernizing the democratic process.”

Can an agency that publishes documents in inaccessible formats be relied on to deliver transparency?

Exactly.  EXACTLY.  Can someone please go hit the FCC on the head with a link to opensource.com so they can start learning about the Open Source Way?

Thank you, drive through.

2 comments

  1. I’ve got to disagree: whilst the FCC could clearly do better in this case (and I know first-hand how awful gigantic scanned-page PDFs are), they could do far worse. PDF is an open standard (as of 2008), and there’s no registration or payment required to view the file.

    Living in the UK, I am frequently told by governmental online services (almost all employment and driving-related ones) to use IE, and in the rare case where something other is supported then it’s Firefox and nothing else (I use epiphany), Whilst I have yet to see something quite as pointless as this FCC document (imagine how much longer it would have taken to print, scan and convert vs. just saving as PDF), it’s certainly not close to being the least-accessible government document I’ve ever seen.

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