GPO and FDLP Concerns from Previous Years


Library associations’ letter of support (pdf) for GPO funding


April 25
Library associations' letter of support (pdf) for GPO funding


April 21
Library associations' letter of support (pdf) for GPO funding

March 1
GPO has issued a statement "POSITION ON FDLP DISTRIBUTION" , stating that, "GPO will continue to expand electronic information offerings through the FDLP and will continue to provide for dissemination of tangible products to depository libraries in accordance with existing policy, in full consultation with the library community. GPO will ensure that the necessary resources are applied to these tasks for FY 2005 and 2006 without requiring additional resources beyond those that have been approved and requested.

It further notes that "All ongoing work on improvements to GPO's electronic information dissemination systems-including those projects associated with the authentication, preservation, and establishment of standards for electronic information products-will continue. GPO's Superintendent of Documents will actively seek the guidance and input of the library community in planning for and implementing changes in the dissemination of Government information products in either electronic or tangible formats," and that"No changes in existing policy or program practice regarding the dissemination of tangible products will be implemented until the results of these efforts have been fully reviewed in consultation with the librar community and GPO's oversight committees in Congress."

January 15
At ALA’s Midwinter Meeting in Boston, GPO informed the library community that their FY 2006 Salaries and Expenses (S&E) appropriations request for the FDLP will be for level funding (at the 2005 level), plus cost of living increases. One result of this request will be drastic changes in the distribution of print materials to our Nation’s federal depository libraries. These proposed changes would take effect October 1, 2005.

Among the changes, the key is that GPO would produce and distribute in print only the 50 titles listed on the Essential Titles for Public Use in Paper Format. The Essential Titles List, last revised in 2000, does not include important materials including maps, geological information, administrative decisions and other congressional and legal materials, as well as Senate and House reports, documents, and hearings that inform the citizenry of the workings of Congress. All other agency information will be disseminated only in electronic format to depository libraries – whether they are equipped to handle this format adequately and whether or not this is the most usable format for their publics. This decision, if allowed to go forward, will have a profound negative impact on access to authenticated government information in formats most usable to the American public.

Second, to supplement the Essential Titles publications, GPO will initiate a Print on Demand (POD) Allowance Program of $500 for selective depository libraries and $1500 for the 53 regional depository libraries for purchase of other titles. GPO is, in effect, asking Congress to support and depository libraries to accept a new fee-based Print on Demand Program that has not yet been established or tested.

GPO admits that POD technology is not archival and that the materials depository libraries purchase through this new service will have a shelf life of only 20 to 30 years. The implications for permanent public access to such material have also not been fully explored.

These plans will have a tremendous impact on the FDLP and on the public’s ability to access and use government information. It is, therefore, essential that GPO’s authorizing committee conduct open public hearings on the impact of GPO’s new initiatives and changes to the Federal Depository Library Program.


July 12
1) Actions to Strengthen and Sustain GPO's Transformation (GAO-04-830)
A report to the Chairmen and Ranking Minority Members, Senate Committee on Appropriations, and Senate Subcommittee on Legislative Branch Committee on Appropriations.

The report is a useful overview of the Government Printing Office and the challenges it is facing in the new technological environment. Among other findings, the report notes the following:

" Printing and dissemination in the federal government, as in private industry, are being transformed by the changing technological environment. Documents are increasingly being created and disseminated electronically, sometimes without ever being printed on paper. Federal agencies are publishing more documents directly to the Web and are doing more of their printing and dissemination of information directly, without using GPO services. At the same time, as more and more government documents are being created and managed electronically, the public is obtaining government information from government Web sites, such as GPO Access (, rather than purchasing paper copies of government documents. As a result, GPO has seen declines in its printing volumes, printing revenues, and document sales. The agency’s procured printing business has experienced a loss of $15.8 million over the past 5 years. The sales program lost $77 million over the same period. In addition, these changes are creating challenges for GPO’s long-standing structure for centralized printing and dissemination and its interactions with customer agencies."

GPO is establishing a mission and strategic goals. Its overall approach is to consider the information gathered in the past year on GPO’s current environment and develop its strategic plan by the summer of 2004. Over the past year, the Public Printer has spoken with employees, stakeholders, and the Congress to help focus and refine a vision for GPO’s future. On April 28, 2004, the Public Printer made his most clear and direct statement of his vision for GPO thus far, stating that GPO has “begun to develop a new vision for the GPO: an agency whose primary mission will be to capture digitally, organize, maintain, authenticate, distribute, and provide permanent public access to the information products and services of the federal government.”

2) The Government Printing Office (GPO) is working with the federal depository library community on several new initiatives involving access to and preservation of print and digital Federal Government documents, and are also planning for the future of the Sales Program. These initiatives are part of the overall agency strategic planning effort.

The documents listed in this link give information about some of the major initiatives that are going on in the Superintendent of Documents organization and throughout GPO. Some of the documents are open for comments.

May 14
Comments on the discussion draft of “Collection of Last Resort (CLR)" to Judith C. Russell, Managing Director, Information Dissemination (Superintendent of Documents), U.S. Government Printing Office.

April 28
Committee on House Administration, Government Printing Office Oversight Hearing: Statement of Janis L. Johnston Director of the Law Library and Associate Professor of Law, Albert E. Jenner Memorial Law Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,On Behalf of the, American Association of Law Libraries, American Library Association, Association of Research Libraries, Medical Library Association, and Special Libraries Association

[PDF file of the letter]


June 6
The Government Printing Office and the Office of Management and Budget announced that by October 1, 2003, GPO will develop a demonstration print procurement contract, similar to a GSA Federal Supply Schedule. We understand that the pilot will be conducted with the Department of Labor.

This demonstration contract, which will be in effect for one year, is OMB's compromise alternative to its earlier attempt to alter Federal Acquisitions (procurement) Regulations (FAR) to permit agencies to go outside the Public Printer to procure the printing of their publications. This would have been contrary to statute and raised serious concerns about public access to government information. ALA submitted comments on the proposed change to the FAR (see Related Documents below). Indeed, the White House had even proposed procuring printing the US Budget outside GPO. ALA wrote to the Office of Procurement in the Executive Office of the President about the risks to public access this posed (see below). The White House eventually did procure the printing through GPO, after GPO found ways to lower its costs.

Under the demonstration project, payments will be routed through GPO to private printers, with agencies approving the payments before they are made. As a condition of payment, vendors will be required to provide GPO with one electronic version of every document ordered under the contract in a format acceptable to GPO and two paper copies, in order to meet the requirements of Chapter 19 of Title 44. U.S. Code. Additionally, the Superintendent of Documents will continue to have access, at its expense, to publications produced under this contract for public distribution. In order to participate in the contract vendors will be required to pledge to provide their "most favored customer pricing" to Federal customers and offer a 3% trade discount, during the demonstration project, to fund the operating costs of the contract. The amount of the trade discount, once deployed government wide, will be reviewed for possible future reduction. A demonstration project will begin in FY2004, and the competitive procurement process will be deployed government-wide in FY2005.

To ensure that agency printing work is channeled through the new competitive procurement process, the Executive Branch will substantially limit the circumstances where agencies may rely on in-house or other Executive Branch printing operations. OMB will seek audits and, where appropriate, review by Inspectors General.