Doing Business With the Government Printing Office

General Info on GPO<@VM>The CIO file: Reynold Schweickhardt

Things to note

To begin doing business with the GPO, you can start at the homepage and click on "Business and Contracting Opportunities." Under the link "Materials Management Service" I found a helpful pamphlet in PDF format (www.gpo.gov/procurement/mms/pub1050.pdf) called "How to Do Business with the U.S. Government Printing Office: A Contractor's Guide," that should answer basic questions, such as what the GPO uses, how it contracts, specific information for small business, etc. With some digging, I also found the General Procurement Virtual Library (www.gpo.gov/procurement/mms/general/gp-vir_lbry.html), which may tell you some more about specific needs the agency has. The Web site does refer you to FedBizOpps.gov as well, and Commerce Business Daily also lists bids the agency puts out. I think for less-confusing information, these may be a good place to start.

The public printer essentially is GPO's chief executive officer. He is nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate. Bruce James was confirmed as public printer Nov. 20, 2002.

GPO is the largest industrial employer in the District of Columbia.

Paper used by GPO and its contractors meet federal recycled paper requirements, and all GPO printing inks are vegetable-oil based.

About 9,000 titles in books, CD ROMs and other electronic formats are for sale to the public at any time. These items can be bought online via GPO's secure Online Bookstore (bookstore.gpo.gov). They also may be ordered by mail, phone or fax. The Federal Citizen Information Center in Pueblo, Colo., offers free and low-cost publications.

I encourage you to take a trip to "Access to Government Information Products" at www.gpo.gov/#info. It's incredible what this agency produces. The "A-Z Resource List" is an amazing source. Among what I found interesting: "Ben's Guide to U.S. Government for Kids" (bensguide.gpo.gov) in which Ben Franklin leads children through history; a list of federal Web sites hosted by GPOAccess.gov (www.gpoaccess.gov/hosted.html); and the "Cybercemetery of Former Federal Web Sites" (www.gpoaccess.gov/cyber-cemetery.html).

Government Printing Office

732 North Capitol St. NW

Washington, D.C. 20401

(202) 512-1991

www.gpo.gov

Founded: June 23, 1860

Public printer: Bruce James

Employees: About 3,000 nationwide

What it does: The Government Printing Office, part of the legislative branch of the federal government, produces and distributes information products and services in print, in electronic format and online via GPO Access (www.gpoaccess.gov). Congress, the White House about 130 federal departments and agencies rely on GPO. Tax forms, the annual budget, consumer information guides, regulations and reports are just some of what the GPO produces. It also furnishes printing supplies to government activities as ordered.

Major components: There is a central office in the District of Columbia and a storage and distribution facility in the D.C. area. There is also a printing plant in Denver, a technical documentation facility in Atlantic City, N.J., a publication distribution facility in Pueblo, Colo., and regional and satellite procurement offices and bookstores nationwide.

Number crunching: The GPO operates like a business. It makes a product and is paid its expenses by the customer. Therefore, there is no federal line item in the budget for this agency. It does get two appropriations: One pays for congressional printing, and the other pays for cataloging, indexing, distributing and online access to documents through the Federal Depository Library Program. For fiscal 2002, GPO had revenue of about $702 million. Its financial records are independently audited every year.

Reynold Schweickhardt

Full title: Manager of information resources management policy

Took the job: May 19

Home now: Alexandria, Va.

Family: Wife and two children.

Hobbies: "I think work is what I have at the moment."

Currently reading: "Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies" by Jared Diamond

Alma mater: Attended University of Santa Barbara in California

WT: Are GPO's technology needs different or unique from the typical needs of an agency?

Schweickhardt: We obviously have all of the normal requirements for business systems that agencies have. When we look at our printing responsibilities, we're really in a transition to information dissemination as being the mission of the agency. Printing is something that is diminishing as people increasingly go to the Web and look things up. So we need to worry about serving the public and Congress and other government agencies not only in the traditional printed form, but also in electronic databases and appropriate search and retrieval products.

The other thing unique about GPO is we have a requirement for perpetual public access. Back when GPO got started in the 1800s, there was a requirement that as we were printing government publications, we made additional copies for inclusion in the depository library program, which then put government information out in the states and accessible to the citizens. Today, we have 1,250 depository libraries, and that is one way in addition to the GPOAccess Web site that we disseminate information to the public.

As agencies shift to born-digital content, the library community has had to shift how it captures and makes that information accessible to patrons. It's ironic, but the publications we printed in the early 1800s, you can go to a regional depository and find them on the shelves almost 200 years later. As we switch to digital, how can we create that same environment for perpetual public access?

WT: Is that driving a lot of what your office is doing right now?

Schweickhardt: We're taking a hard look at the problem. The other thing we're working on is implementation of the recent compact between OMB and GPO about how government printing will be procured in the future. One thing we're working on is an e-commerce site that will allow agencies, with support of GPO, to select printers for their needs.

Part of what we're trying to solve is what we refer to as the fugitive document problem. The depository library system is only capturing about 50 percent of the appropriate publications. So half of appropriate, historical government information isn't making it into the system by which it's going to be acceptable in the future.

WT: Is there anything GPO does that is completely Web-based or Internet based?

Schweickhardt: Most of what we do supports Web sites for agencies, such as the Supreme Court. Most of what we put on the Web, however, comes to us because people want it both in print and in electronic form.

WT: What do you look for in companies with which you're thinking of doing business?

Schweickhardt: We're looking for companies with a track record of success and that can help us solve the problems we're struggling with, and at same time, because we're concerned about perpetual public access, we really are looking for companies that have a track record and financial stability.

For the complete interview with Reynold Schweickhardt, including the latest on GPOAccess.gov, go to QuickFind at www.washingtontechnology.com and type in 113.

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