Printing Agency May Modernize Its Name

Posted March 17, 2011 at 11:01pm

The Government Printing Office, finding its paper-based mission under Congressional attack, is considering a name change to reflect its role in the digital age.

“We’re not just a printing agency,” Public Printer William Boarman said Thursday during a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch. “We are the digital platform for the entire federal government.”

The name is “outdated,” and a new one that more accurately reflects the agency is a possibility, Boarman responded when subcommittee Chairman Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) pressed him about rumors that a change is in the works.

Nelson said the agency’s name gives the impression that the bulk of the GPO’s work is manual printing. That perception, he added, is the reason many of his colleagues have attacked the GPO’s budget, saying it wastes tax dollars on printing.

The House, for example, passed a bill in January that would end a requirement that the GPO print hard copies of Congressional bills and resolutions. A companion Senate bill is sitting in committee.

Some Members have gone further by suggesting that Congress eliminate the entire agency.

But Boarman said 70 percent of the GPO’s funds are used to digitize legislation, schedules and other federal records, while 30 percent is used to print hard copies.

“Clearly GPO is no longer a government printing office,” he told Roll Call. “It’s more of an information office or a publishing house or something like that.”

He said it’s too early to speculate about what the new name might be, but he added that he hopes it will more accurately reflect the agency’s mandate and lessen the pressure from fiscal conservatives.