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Do You Really Know the GPO?

November 2001
WASHINGTON, DC—The printing industry continues to see new personnel enter this exciting field. Some are in sales, others are in customer services, or involved with management and production.

Whatever your role, part of the job description (written or unwritten) is to assist in gaining work for your company and producing profits. This means no stone should be left unturned in finding jobs that can be run on your plant's equipment.

This influx of new talent is why, every once in a while, it is important to educate printers about the federal Government Printing Office (GPO) and its potential as a customer to your business. The following should succinctly address the who, what, where and how of GPO.

What is the GPO?

The GPO is not as old as Ben Franklin. However, it is a very established office of the federal government created nearly 140 years ago. It was established in the mid-1800s to satisfy the printing needs of the U.S. Congress, which continues to have oversight and control.

At the same time, the Executive Branch has its input in GPO by appointing The Public Printer. The person in this position, held by Michael DiMario since 1993, serves as GPO's chief officer and is nominated by the President

Today, the GPO is more than just 'ink on paper.' While its moniker would suggest that it is dedicated to printing and binding of printed materials, GPO also deals with information dissemination in many formats, including printing, microfiche, CD-ROM and online technology for the entire federal community. This includes the maintenance, sale and dissemination of the largest volume of U.S. government publications and information in the world. In all, 9,000 titles are available for sale at any given time, with many ordered through GPO's online bookstore.

It is the availability of hundreds of millions of dollars in outsourced work to private sector printers, which constitutes more than two-thirds of GPO's printing revenues, that is of importance to commercial printers. More than 100 federal departments and agencies utilize GPO's services.

How does GPO bid and award printing jobs?

There are two basic manners in which printers bid for GPO work: by providing a price for an invitation for bid (IFB) for a single job, otherwise known as a jacket, or bidding for a term contract, or program. Single job purchases account for 52 percent of all procurements by dollars. In all, there may be approximately 50,000 jackets bid out in a year to GPO vendors.
 

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