James Lays Out GPO Overhaul

Posted October 18, 2004 at 4:05pm

The Government Printing Office will be restructured to focus on six key areas — ranging from traditional publishing to security-enhanced documents — under a new business plan outlined Sunday by Public Printer Bruce James.

James discussed the plan, which is still being drafted and reviewed, during the Federal Depository Library Conference & Depository Library Council’s fall meeting.

The reorganization is a major aspect of the planned overhaul of GPO’s business management process, a multiyear process James unveiled when he took the agency’s helm in 2003.

“We have reorganized this in a very efficient, customer-friendly way,” James said.

Under the proposal, which would be implemented over a two- to three-year period, the agency would be divided into six “business groups” focused on: library content management, which includes the Federal Depository Library Program; sales of both “tangible” and digital information; government journals, such as the Federal Register; security and intelligence documents; digital media services, such as storage or Web site design; and printing and customer services, which would encompass much of GPO’s traditional role.

But funding for the new programs could present a significant obstacle, James said.

“Congress has been very reluctant to put additional money into GPO,” James said, noting that lawmakers rejected a $25 million request in the agency’s fiscal 2005 budget for technology investment. “We’re not going to let that stop us. We’re going to figure out how to get it done.”

GPO is looking to new sources to produce revenue, James stated, including the sale of both digital and paper documents.

While James stressed that mainstay documents such as the Congressional Register and Federal Record — fee-based publications that have become available at no cost on the Internet during the past decade — would remain free of charge online, he suggested the agency could create new products that would be marketed to specific businesses and other groups.

“We think there are ways we can cleverly combine information and push it to people,” James said.

In addition, James suggested GPO will see “true growth” in the development and sales of its security and intelligence-related products, such as U.S. passports.

Under a joint project with the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, GPO will manufacture new passports containing electronic chips that will contain the holder’s biometric information. According to GPO, the passports will become available to the general public in early 2005.