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GPO's Private Sector Partners Are Keeping America Informed

April 2009
By William Gindlesperger, Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, e-LYNXX Corporation

CHAMBERSBURG, PA—April 21, 2009—The U. S. Government Printing Office (GPO) has released its annual report for 2008 and in it are a host of highlighted accomplishments. In many ways, the GPO does demonstrate how government work should be effectively centralized.

While the report covers modernization, digitalization, plant expansion and going "green," it does not mention the important contributions of hundreds of private sector printers that account for almost half of the $1 billion dollars in government print work that is done for the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the federal government.

The U.S. Government Printing Office was established by Congress in 1813 with the core mission of Keeping America Informed. The GPO is the federal government’s primary centralized resource for gathering, cataloging, producing, providing, authenticating and preserving published information. That’s just about everything printed for the federal government. Further, as required by Title 44 of the U.S. Code, all federal agencies are required to use GPO to procure their printing.

Unlike most federal agencies, GPO operates much like a business, as it is not only reimbursed by its federal agency customers for the cost of work performed, but the GPO also receives from its federal agency customers a service fee which is based on a percentage of the work procured. Additionally, the GPO sells printing to its customers, and this is done at the huge GPO printing facility in Washington for work that is not outsourced to the private sector, such as the Congressional Record, Federal Register, and U.S. passports.

It is very interesting that the 2008 GPO Annual Report shows GPO operating revenues for 2008 are $1,042,425,000; less operating expenses of $996,164,000; resulting in net income of $43,261,000.  Procurement and internal production are not separated, and, therefore, it is not clear whether outsourced procured print from the private sector is included in the statement whatsoever.  However, it is clear that the $43,261,000 net income was produced totally by GPO’s mark-up on the procured value of the outsourced printing, and that without this mark-up, the GPO’s own production facility would be running seriously in the red, being underwritten by the Congressional budget through taxpayer money.

Therefore, it is difficult to understand why private sector printers are not gaining work as the GPO grows. GPO outsourcing statistics for 1992-2008 tell the story.  In 1992, the total dollar value of work awarded by the GPO to private sector printers was just over $500 million dollars. Last year, that total was $440 million, and the five years prior were in the $380 million to $390 million range. That is roughly a 27% drop in income to private sector printers comparing 1992 to the six year average from 2003 through 2008. Factor in inflation and the drop is even more significant.
 

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