Blistering Report on the GPO Issued by Nader’s Center for Study of Responsive Law
An unfortunate consequence of the shift away from print media, however, is that Americans who remain offline are increasingly disconnected from their government. “The Peoples’ Printer” paints a troubling picture of who is being left behind:
• 32.1 percent of Americans making less than $15,000 per year had high-speed internet access in their home, compared to nearly 90 percent of Americans making $150,000 or more annually.
• 49 percent of black Americans and 51 percent of hispanic Americans have access to broadband internet at home, compared to 66 percent of white Americans.
• 94 percent of Americans aged 18 to 29 were internet users, while only 41 percent of Americans 65 years or older were.
In the past few decades, the GPO has moved much of the information it provides online, printed less, and outsourced more of its printing work. This has resulted in fewer employees, lower sales, fewer physical document requests, and consumers were confronted with skyrocketing prices for print publications. Some costs have increased five-fold.
While much of this is attributable to advances in technology, it is also indicative of a federal government moving increasingly away from physical printing of documents, and that the GPO’s authority as government and public printer has been consistently undermined:
• In the early 1970s, GPO had 8,572 employees. Today, it employs just 1,900.
• In FY 1993, the year GPO’s online dissemination authority was enacted by Congress, GPO’s annual sales were $84.1 million. Today, GPO’s annual sales are just over $11 million.
• 85 percent of government printing during the 1950s was performed in-house. In FY 2011, GPO reported that about 73.2 percent of its printing work, costing $392.8 million, was outsourced.
• In 1979, an annual subscription to the Congressional Record was $75. Today, it costs $503.
“The Peoples’ Printer” report makes important recommendations to improve the Government Printing Office’s role in “keeping America informed:”