GenBank Errors

David Kristofferson kristoff at
Wed Oct 16 19:35:11 EST 1991

	The bionet.general newsgroup is not the place to report
GenBank errors.  As Paul Gilna at Los Alamos noted, GenBank has an
address for this purpose, update at  In my phone
conversation with Tom, he acknowledged that his error reports to that
address had been handled professionally.  I personally have never
protested the use of the GENBANK-BB newsgroup (bionet.molbio.genbank)
for calling attention to databank problems of widespread interest (but
please not on BIONEWS/bionet.general).  Also if you feel compelled to
light a fire under our hind ends because you believe that your
attempts to go through our regular channels have not been successful,
I can't protest that too much either.  I would hope, however, that
people would extend us the simple courtesy of trying normal channels

I have been an advocate at several NIH meetings of having a dedicated
newsgroup for every NIH project like GenBank to help ensure public
accountability.  I have also tried to alert the public when we have
screwed up instead of just sweeping things under the rug (witness
earlier today with the BLAST server, for example ... blush).  Believe
me that I feel great embarrassment about having to make public
admissions of errors, but I also believe that we have a responsibility
to the scientific community to alert them to significant problems.
However, as the recent Anita Hill vs. Clarence Thomas bout
demonstrated, not *everything* should go public immediately.  We
appreciate a bit of civility as much as the next person.

The part of Tom's message that was most perturbing to us was his shot
about losing the contract.  Although I would be the first to admit to
errors in the database, I should note that the legislation to create
NCBI was passed through Congress in 1987 about the time that the
current contract was awarded to IntelliGenetics and LANL.  It seems
obvious to me that several years were needed to get NCBI staffed and
up to speed.  Thus NIH had no other choice but to put the GenBank
project out to bid for a second five year period.  It is *unwarranted*
to jump to the conclusion that the reason NCBI is taking over the
contract is due to poor performance by the current contractor.
Several hours have passed since my phone comversation with Tom, and I
have not seen anything from him on the newsgroup.  While I politely
suggested earlier that he issue a public retraction, I am now
demanding one.


				David Kristofferson, Ph.D.
				GenBank Manager

				kristoff at

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