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What the Printing Industry Needs in the Next Public Printer

January 16, 2012
CHAMBERSBURG, PA—Jan. 16, 2012—The majority of the printing done for the federal government has historically been done by private sector printers. The U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) and thousands of printers nationwide have what many have viewed historically as the model public-private partnership. This is a relationship that has taken generations to build.

The idea from the beginning, when the GPO was created by Congressional Joint Resolution 25 on June 23, 1860, was to establish a coordinating body that would channel printing requests efficiently and cost effectively from federal agencies to printers equipped to do the work. Title 44 of the U.S. Code states that the GPO will be the centralized resource for gathering, cataloging, producing, providing, authenticating and preserving published information. That’s just about everything printed for the federal government. Further, as specified by Title 44, all federal agencies are required to use the GPO to procure their print.

This reflection on history is important because over the past decade, federal printing for the private sector has been slipping away as federal agencies have been allowed to set up their own print operations and as the GPO has developed its own internal print capabilities duplicating what the private sector already is equipped to do. As a matter of fact, the private sector does federal printing at a cost far less expensive than having the government invest in printing equipment and more staffing.

During the past three years alone, the year-end totals for jobs awarded by the GPO to private sector printers have seen a steady decline—$425 million in 2009 dropped to $358 million in 2010 and then to $331 million in 2011.

According to William Gindlesperger, chairman and CEO of e-LYNXX Corp., the next Public Printer needs to have an appreciation for the contributions that thousands of private sector print professionals make daily to a procurement process that historically has not been flawed. “The old adage of ‘Don’t fix it if it isn’t broken.’ applies,” he said.

Centralization provides the GPO with buying power, quality control and economy of scale values. It also positions the GPO so it can pre-qualify and be selective about printers that want to do GPO printing. Some 10,000 printers are registered with the GPO to bid on its work, and each must pass the GPO’s rigorous qualification process—a detailed review of work samples and, at the highest quality levels, on-site inspections of the supplier's print plant. A printer can only be awarded GPO jobs for the quality levels for which it is qualified. This ensures that regardless of pricing, GPO will receive quality work on time.

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