CIA's Imaging & Publishing Support Facility Prints the Nation's Secrets
One of the most important missions of every in-plant is to maintain the confidentiality of its parent organization’s documents. It’s safe to say that no printer has a greater need for document security than the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) Imaging & Publishing Support (IPS) division.
Deep inside the CIA’s highly secure Langley, Va., headquarters, the U.S government’s foreign intelligence gathering service maintains a very large in-plant to handle printing, graphic design, web services and more in support of its mission to gather, process and analyze national security information from around the world for U.S. policy makers.
“We’re the intelligence community publisher,” notes Warren (last name withheld for security reasons), chief of IPS. “The agency [provides] fast-breaking information to policy makers, so we have quick turnaround times.”
The CIA has had printing capabilities right from its inception in 1947. With a mix of offset and digital printing equipment, the CIA’s in-plant uses a five-color, 40˝ manroland offset press with a coater to print its long-run products, such as brochures or recruitment posters. Shorter-run, on-demand work is handled by a Kodak NexPress 2500, two Ricoh digital color presses and two Kodak Digimaster black-and-white printers. The in-plant also provides wide-format inkjet printing of banners and posters using HP and Epson printers, including a new HP Latex 370. In the bindery, IPS is about to enhance its perfect binding capabilities with a new Spiel Sterling Digibinder.
Many of the items IPS prints are common to print shops: invitations, certificates, memos, flyers, posters, brochures, training manuals and business cards — though some of these can include classified data. Other items are more unique, such as “Studies in Intelligence” books in which CIA historians study how procedures were done in the past and offer leadership lessons for the future.
The U.S. Government’s Classified Printer
IPS prints classified documents not just for the CIA but for all intelligence agencies and any agency with a need for classified material. For example, every government agency has to produce a Congressional Budget Justification Book (CBJB) for the Office of Management and Budget, so IPS handles these projects for them.
“We really provide classified printing services for any U.S. government agency that needs to print classified,” affirms Warren.
Providing high-security printing means having a staff you can trust and a facility with secure, limited access. Both are areas where the CIA excels.
“To gain access to our building, you need to have a top secret security clearance, so it’s a highly restricted area,” points out Warren. Employees receive in-depth training on classification issues, he says, and security is part of the culture at the CIA.
“We have an office of security that ensures a trusted workforce,” Warren says.
To prevent digital intrusion, none of the shop’s printers or other systems is connected to the Internet. The intelligence community uses its own internal communication system.
This makes it impossible to use a traditional Web-to-print system, so job files arrive in various electronic formats through the CIA’s secure electronic intelligence network. Warren says IPS is actively developing an internal Web-to-print capability.
One of the most top secret jobs handled by IPS is the President’s Daily Brief (PDB). In years past, this was produced with off-line digital printing equipment for the president and an exclusive group of senior policy makers. These days it’s produced both electronically and in hard copy.
“Senior policy makers tend to prefer to read things electronically now,” notes Warren. This is indicative of the overall trend at IPS toward less printing output. In fact, he says, print now makes up just a third of the operation’s business, and some of the in-plant’s seldom-used equipment has been sold to reduce capacity.
“So we’re moving more into electronic services,” he says. This includes graphic design, internal website creation, multimedia projects and developing Web-based training.
“Web-based training is big nowadays,” Warren remarks.
IPS also handles photography, produces video documentaries and creates mobile apps.
“IPS is designed to be a one-stop media service,” remarks Willie (last name withheld), who serves as deputy chief of IPS. “It’s basically all-inclusive so that any of our customers in the intelligence community can come to us for any type of media support.”
Still, IPS isn’t abandoning print.
“We’re trying to get into more specialty print products,” says Warren. For example, printing logos and signs on vinyl material that can stick to walls. The operation also has a 3D printer, which it uses to produce models.
IPS manages the CIA’s copier program, and also provides all of the paper used by the agency. Monitoring paper usage gives IPS an idea of how much printing it is not doing.
“We know how many pages are printed,” Warren says. “We lose a lot of central plant business to those internal office copiers.”
This is something IPS is working hard to turn around. “It requires continual outreach and continual communication,” he says. “We try to meet with a key customer every week. Once a month we’ll also set a table up and showcase our products.”
IPS employs a team of six customer service reps to help with this. Just like at other in-plants trying to justify their need, staying busy is crucial for IPS.
“We’re a full cost-recovery, working capital fund,” Warren says. “We’re expected to break even. Our money comes from the products that we provide.”
Not that IPS is in much danger of being outsourced to an outside print provider. “I don’t know of any outside businesses that can print such top secret [material],” notes Warren.
Still, IPS faces most of the same challenges that printers all over the industry are facing.
“We’re basically trying to do what the printing industry in general is trying to accomplish; we’re doing everything we can to continually outreach in order to get more print products,” he says. “At the same time, we’re adapting to the changing industry and we’re focusing more on those electronic products.” PI
Bob has served as editor of In-plant Impressions since October of 1994. Prior to that he served for three years as managing editor of Printing Impressions, a commercial printing publication. Mr. Neubauer is very active in the U.S. in-plant industry. He attends all the major in-plant conferences and has visited nearly 170 in-plant operations around the world. He has given presentations to numerous in-plant groups in the U.S., Canada and Australia, including the Association of College and University Printers and the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association. He also coordinates the annual In-Print contest, cosponsored by IPMA and In-plant Impressions.