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The Government Printing Office has a new mobile application, but you won’t find it in the App Store.
Instead, the GPO application, which is being released today, can be accessed through any mobile device. The application allows users to search for Members of Congress by name, state, chamber or party. Each lawmaker’s profile includes his or her picture, party, hometown and how long he or she has served in Congress.
“We thought that since apps are on fire — people are buying them every day — that this would be a good place for us to start, with the pictorial directory,” said Public Printer Bill Boarman of the project’s genesis.
GPO Chief Technology Officer Richard Davis said that the decision to develop a web mobile application was strategic.
While a native mobile application can be obtained only through device-specific application providers such as the Apple App Store, a web mobile application allows more people to engage with the product.
Developing a web-based mobile application also saved the GPO money. Although the agency was unable to provide exact numbers regarding cost, Davis said developing native applications could cost as much as $50,000 for each platform.
“By doing a mobile site, it allows us to use existing in-house resources,” Davis said. “It kept cost down to a minimum, and we were able to do it quickly.”
According to Boarman, the introduction of this application is “one more step [in the GPO’s] transition from the printed world into the digital world.”
“Congress would like to move to be a paperless organization; I think they’re probably a ways away, five years or more,” he continued. “We’re prepared to move as fast as they want to, and hopefully we’re going to help lead them there.”
The GPO is changing the way it operates, from the products it offers to the way it runs its operations. By the end of the year, about 300 employees will leave the GPO with Congressionally approved buyouts. Most of the departing employees are nearing retirement age and worked in traditional printing roles within the agency, according to Boarman.
An earlier version of this article misstated the cost of developing native mobile applications.
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