GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys) America’s Authentic Government Information

By Pat Behles
Gov. Docs. & Reference Librarian
University of Baltimore Law Library

One mission of the GPO (Government Printing Office) is to provide for, in partnership with the Federal depository libraries, perpetual, free, and ready public access to the print and digital publications of the Government.

In keeping with this mission FDsys continues to give the American people a one-stop site to authentic, published information, while enhancing the searching and browsing capabilities found on GPO Access. Transition to FDsys was completed in January 2011, with more collections to be added in updates.

FDsys provides free online access to official Federal Government publications. Through FDsys you are able to search for documents and publications; browse for documents and publications; access metadata and download documents in multiple file formats. FDsys contains almost 50 collections of Government information ranging from Congressional materials, to Presidential materials, and materials from Federal agencies. For a full list of FDsys collections visit

In many ways, using FDsys is similar to conducting a typical Web search. One of the changes from GPO Access is that you can easily search across multiple publications or collections from a single search box. When you enter a search query, FDsys will locate relevant information for you, just as if you were using any other search tool. After inputting your search terms, you will be provided with a list of relevant results, which can be narrowed down and filtered.

FDsys enables GPO to manage Government publications from Congress and Federal agencies that are submitted to GPO in digital form, gathered from the Federal web sites, and created by scanning previously printed publications.

FDsys will allow Federal content creators to easily create and submit content which will then be preserved, authenticated, managed and delivered upon request.

For almost 150 years, the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) has been the official disseminator of government documents and has assured users of their authenticity. In the 21st century, the increasing use of electronic documents poses special challenges in verifying authenticity, because digital technology makes such documents easy to alter or copy, leading to multiple non-identical versions that can be used in unauthorized or illegitimate ways

To help meet the challenge of the digital age, GPO has begun implementing digital signatures to certain electronic documents on GPO Access that not only establish GPO as the trusted information disseminator, but also provide the assurance that an electronic document has not been altered since GPO disseminated it.

Currently, the following documents are signed in FDsys:

• Additional Government Publications (select documents)
• Budget of the United States Government (FY 2010 and 2011)
• Code of Federal Regulations (select years)
• Compilation of Presidential Documents
• Congressional Bills
• Congressional Directory
• Congressional Record (Bound Edition)
• Federal Register
• House Rules and Manual
• List of CFR Sections Affected
• Public and Private Laws
• Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States
• Senate Manual
• United States Code
• United States Government Manual
• United States Statutes at Large

GPO uses a digital certificate to apply digital signatures to PDF documents. In order for users to validate the certificate that was used by GPO to apply a digital signature to document, a chain of certificates or a certification path between the certificate and an established point of trust must be established, and every certificate within that path must be checked

What is GPO’s Seal of Authenticity?

The GPO Seal of Authenticity is a graphic of an eagle next to the words “Authenticated U.S. Government Information.”

What are validation icons?

Validation icons appear next to the GPO Seal of Authenticity to notify users of the content’s validity status. The following is a list of icons that are used by Adobe to convey information about digital signatures.

There are tutorials, help screens, FAQs and a manual to help with use of FDsys, as well as ask GPO functions.