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Printers of All Sizes Can and Should Compete for GPO Work

July 12, 2011
Too often printers think they have to be capable of producing multi-million dollar jobs in order to compete for the approximately $400 million in work that the United States Government Printing Office (GPO) awards annually to private sector printers. That is a myth, according to Deborah Snider, senior vice president of e-LYNXX Corporation.

“The truth is most jobs put out for bid by GPO are in the $3,000 to $5,000 range and most often involve what average-size printers do on a daily basis―envelopes, tags, color copying, kit folders, cut sheets, four-color process and promotional specialties to mention a few categories of print jobs,” she said. “GPO puts these out for bid as one-time jobs or jackets and as multi-year programs.”

The majority of the firms doing the federal government’s print work are small businesses, according to GPO officials. Many have 20 or fewer employees. So, the idea that a printer has to be a large-scale printer is one that needs to be dispelled. Only some of the 2,500 printers that actively vie for GPO work are corporate printers that have multiple plants in different parts of the country.

In addition to its headquarters in Washington, D.C., orders for GPO work come from GPO offices located in Atlanta; Boston; Charleston, S.C.; Chicago; Columbus, Ohio; Dallas; Denver; Hampton, Va.; New York; Oklahoma City; Philadelphia; San Antonio; San Diego; San Francisco; and Seattle.

GPO offices have a preference for quick jackets―or work for which bids are required back to GPO within 24 hours. The work does not have to be done in a day, but the bidding does. “Quick bid jackets often draw a higher price because of the quick-turnaround bid requirement,” Snider said. “As a matter of fact, 81 percent of all GPO jacket bid requests are for quick jackets.”

Program work, or multi-year projects, accounts for $180 million each year. These do attract larger printers, but they are not exclusive to them. Program awards vary from a few thousand dollars to substantial amounts, such as the $171,174 that was awarded last year by GPO for the printing of various envelopes for the United States Department of Justice. It is not unusual for programs to be for a million dollars or more, but relatively fewer printers bid on those size jobs.

An advantage a giant corporate printer may have over a smaller printer is the ability to do larger jobs in shorter times. Whatever the size, printers realize early on that it is in their best interest to team with a GPO bid service firm for assistance, Snider emphasized.
 

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