"Why would anyone pay for something when the exact same thing is available for free?"

Back in 1950, Congress created an agency to find that research. The National Technical Information Service was told to catalog, warehouse and make available all manner of scientific and academic papers.

That was 64 years ago, decades before the Internet was even invented. So what’s an easy way to find those papers now?

At a computer in his Senate office, Sen. Tom Coburn is looking for one of those reports — the one about the hazardous waste. NTIS sells it on their website: $25 for an electronic file, $73 for a paper copy.

“There it is,” Coburn says. “There’s everything you want on it. There’s the appendices, and here’s the characteristics of the study. I can print it out now. I don’t want it, but I could print it out right now on my computer and have it in 2 minutes.”