June 20, 2002 -- (Reprinted with permission from RollCall) -- A Government Printing Office report estimates that dropping regulations requiring executive branch agencies to use GPO would cost the government up to an additional $335.2 million in the first year and force the agency to cut up to half its staff.
The report, submitted earlier this month to the Joint Committee on Printing and the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on the legislative branch by Public Printer Michael Di-Mario, was in response to a memo issued in May by Office of Management and Budget Director Mitch Daniels.
Based on a 1996 opinion by the Justice Department’s office of legal counsel that Congress cannot force the executive branch to use GPO, Daniels requested an amendment to the Code of Federal Regulations that would transfer printing authority to executive branch agencies.
GPO officials have disputed Daniels’ assertion that allowing agencies to contract directly with private printers could save between $50 million and $70 million in fees charged by GPO for procurement services.
“We’re not really sure how OMB came up with its estimates,” said GPO spokesman Andrew Sherman. GPO’s report shows the printing office collected only $32.5 million in fees in 2001, or about $175 on each $2,500 order. OMB did not return calls seeking comment.
In addition, the GPO report estimates executive branch printing costs could increase by up to $207.5 million annually if the federal code is amended.
“Many government agencies end up trying to perform the printing themselves in their own printing shops, and that’s the costliest effort of all,” Sherman said.
The report also states that “agencies are unlikely to maintain the same universe of competition among private sector printers that GPO achieves,” which could result in price increases of up to 25 percent, or $103.8 million. The printing office currently seeks bids on 75 percent of its orders from a pool of 10,000 to 12,000 private printers, which represents about a quarter of the printing industry.
The loss in revenue from executive branch orders would also require GPO to seek a 60 percent, or $49 million, increase in its annual appropriation, from $81 million to $130 million.
In 2001, more than 60 percent of GPO’s revenue, or about $187.7 million, came from payments by executive branch agencies for printing, procurement and distribution services, as well as the sale of executive branch publications to the public.
According to the Daniels memo, GPO charged federal offices $553 million for printing and copying services in fiscal 2001. Currently, GPO handles less than half of all federal printing orders. The report also states that GPO could be forced to reduce its staff.
“In a worst-case scenario, if we lost every bit of executive branch work out of here, we’d have to cut this work force in half,” Sherman said. That would amount to more than 1,500 workers and up to $51.2 million in retirement and buyout incentives. The printing office report also states that federal agencies would take on costs for government publications distributed to 1,300 public libraries nationwide. In fiscal 2001, GPO paid $4.2 million for executive branch publications included in the library distribution program.
At a May hearing of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on the legislative branch, DiMario said the printing office plans to restate its concerns during the public comment period required before the Federal Acquisition Regulation is amended. In a letter to Sen. Mark Dayton (D-Minn.), chairman of the Joint Committee on Printing, DiMario also noted that changes to the federal code would conflict with the U.S. Code, which directs federal agencies to use GPO for printing and procurement services.
Reprinted with permission from:
Roll Call, The Newspaper of Capital Hill Since 1955
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Written By Jennifer Yachnin
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