GPO Quality Level Changes Require Careful Attention

CHAMBERSBURG, PA—December 15, 2009—Without much fanfare, changes have been made to United States Government Printing Office (GPO) quality levels – the standards that GPO has established for printers in order for them to submit bids for federal government print work. The descriptions of the four GPO quality levels have not changed:

• Level 1 – best quality, highest quality, tightest tolerances (examples: art books, medical journals and meat grading charts) Onsite inspection is required for this level.

• Level 2 – better quality, prestige quality, library quality (examples: yearbooks, recruiting materials and illustrated professional papers)

• Level 3 – good quality, above average quality (examples: annual reports, general process color work, court decisions, budget reports, catalogs and textbooks)

• Level 4 – basic quality, informational quality, utility quality (examples: telephone directories, indexes, project reports and technical manuals without process color and with only occasional halftones)

What has changed is how materials are to be submitted to GPO by a printer attempting to upgrade or substantiate its quality rating. For all four levels, three samples instead of 10 must be submitted, but with each of the three samples more supporting documentation is required. Each of the three samples must include original media (electronic disk, camera copy, etc.)—a new requirement. As has been required in the past with each sample, a printer must submit a comprehensive list of equipment (presses, proofing systems, etc.), evaluation sample certification GPO form 2689, an approved proof (labeled with the system used to produce it), an approved press sheet (containing color bars and labeled with the equipment used to produce it), a minimum of three copies labeled with the date of production and a customer reference for each sample submitted including the name of the company and contact information.

For Level 1 and Level 2 review, proofs for each of the three samples must now be either a digital one-piece composite laminated halftone proof, a film based composite laminate proof (or press proof on the actual production stock) or an inkjet proof that is G7 profiled and uses pigment-based inks. (In fact some Level 2 solicitations now require proofs showing dot structure, while inkjet proofs are not considered. Printers that do not provide dot structure on proofs on these jobs can now be declared non-responsible by GPO.)