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Knowing How to Ship to GPO Means the Difference Between Success and Rejection

July 2009
By Deborah Snider, Senior Vice President, e-LYNXX Corp.

Producing the perfect, beautiful print job for the U. S. Government Print Office (GPO) is only one step toward GPO success. Next come packaging, shipping and GPO acceptance.

Like with the print itself, specifications and instructions must be followed precisely or work could well be rejected. Getting printed material to the GPO late or incorrectly is not an option. You have to know what you are doing.

The GPO will spell out how it wants the printed material prepared for shipping. In some cases, the instructions assume that you have done GPO work before and know what to do.

For instance, the GPO will specify whether the work should be shrink wrapped for shipment and how many documents should be in each shrink-wrapped package. Each package is usually, but not always, required to be no more than 10 inches in height. Additionally cardboard or chipboard sheets may be placed in each package. A label identifying the job by requisition number, department name and other form information must be on each package for identification. Not putting the label in the right place on the package can lead to job rejection. Likewise putting the supplier’s name on the label can lead to rejection. Shrink-wrapped packages are usually, but not always, put in 275 pound test shipping boxes, and a separate GPO furnished label can be required to be affixed to each box. The boxes are then usually, but not always, placed on GPO specified pallets that are somewhat different from common commercial pallets. Some of this comes with GPO instructions that are received when the purchase order is made. Some of it does not.

You also have to know what to do if all the instructions are not falling into place. A client of ours once had a GPO job that specified shrink wrapping with further instructions that each shrink-wrapped package must contain 500 documents. The problem was that each package with 500 documents exceeded by about 6-inches another requirement on the same job for a 10-inch maximum shrink wrap package height. The GPO contract administrator could have resolved the problem, but it was after hours for GPO and the administrator was not available. Knowing how to make this and similar decisions is key to successfully accomplishing GPO work.

Completed work must be shipped to the government agency that placed the order. Often one or two copies must be sent to the GPO and 15 copies to the Library of Congress. Government furnished materials (photos, CDs, artwork, reference materials, etc.) must be packaged separately and clearly marked so they get back to the person at the agency who initiated the work in the first place. Government furnished material cannot just be placed in one of the boxes of printed material, because it could end up in a warehouse and probably never seen again. This would cause huge problems with the GPO and the agency that is expecting its original artwork, photos, CDs, etc. back. But sometimes there is a requirement to break this rule and send the furnished materials in the package with the print. Knowing when to do what is key to successfully accomplishing GPO work. A general practice is to note the government furnished material as a separate item on the packing list if it is being returned along with the bulk of the shipment.


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