Something Isn’t Adding Up at GPO
The United States Government Printing Office (GPO) Strategic Plan for 2011 through 2015 has been published, and it is an eye opener for what it only tangentially acknowledges. And that is: the contribution of private sector printers that have traditionally printed the bulk of the federal government’s printing.
In his February 2011 posting on Facebook, Public Printer William Boarman did give credit where credit is due: “The majority of the firms we deal with are small businesses, many with 20 employees or fewer. We annually award contracts to more than 2,500 vendors nationwide, representing potentially 50,000 jobs. The total number of contractors registered to do business with us is around 16,600, representing potentially 332,000 jobs.”
At one time, more than three quarters of GPO’s print work was awarded to the private sector for an annual revenue flow to them that easily exceeded half a billion dollars. With the advent of digital and other technology and the online culture in which we now live, it is understandable that the printing of some documents will fall by the wayside.
Disturbingly, the flow of GPO work has been dropping steadily over the years. In 2010, the total value of GPO work awarded to private sector printers was $358 million. This year, it appears to be on a course to be less than $300 million. This is troubling because the livelihoods of the 50,000 men and women mentioned by Boarman depend on GPO work. So does our economy if it is to rebound.
Most disturbing is the fact that federal agencies are skirting federal policy by printing some $800 million of their own printing in-house. Title 44 of the U.S. Code states that all federal printing, with a few exceptions, is to be channeled through GPO. If this work were to pass through GPO and awarded to private sector printers it would be a boon to an industry that needs a shot in the arm.