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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

GPO , Issues and Challenges: How Will GPO Transition to the Future?

R. Eric Petersen
Specialist in American National Government

Chairman Gingrey, Ranking Member Lofgren, and Members of the subcommittee: Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today.

You have asked me to present testimony to the subcommittee on the Government Printing Office (GPO). In its 150 years, the agency’s mission has evolved from pursuing a craft chiefly dedicated to the mass production of books, government forms, flyers, and other printed materials to its current posture as “the Federal Government’s primary centralized resource for producing, procuring, cataloging, indexing, authenticating, disseminating, and preserving the official information products of the U.S. Government in digital and tangible forms.”

GPO’s evolution reflects similar transformations in the printing, publishing, and information management components of the private sector. In the past four decades, those industries have addressed the emergence of electronic publishing and distribution. The advent of digital information has expanded the means of information creation, protection, and delivery beyond mechanical compilation and production of documents that exist only on paper. Where mass-produced printed products were the focus in the 19
th and 20th Centuries, today GPO produces passports, identification documents for citizens enrolled in various government benefit programs, immigration documents, and secure credentials for the federal workforce. Individual copies are unique, products are customizable, and include advanced anti-counterfeiting features. Documents of general interest and mass distribution have changed as well – according to GPO, approximately 97% of all U.S. Government documents are “born digital,” published electronically and available through the Internet, and will never be printed by the federal government. The legacy of the printing program continues as well, with paper copies of the Congressional Record, Federal Register, and other government publications available in dwindling numbers, but accessible without charge in electronic form to Internet users through GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys).

Date of Report: May 11, 2011
Number of Pages: 8
Order Number: T-051111
Price: $19.95

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