Government printing plants continue to close, FDLP must adapt, says GPO

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The federal government has 64 percent fewer in-house printing plants today than it did in 1990, finds a July 17 Government Accountability Office report (.pdf). The most significant decline comes from the Defense Department, which reported 142 printing plants in 1990 and is now down to 17 managed by the Defense Logistics Agency.

No agency relies solely on conventional printing presses anymore, report auditors, although 14 of the 32 agencies surveyed use inked-based presses in addition to duplication equipment. Seventeen of the agencies do all of their in-house printing with high-speed duplication machines, the report adds.

The continued closure of agency printing operations has pushed most printing needs to the Government Printing Office or private services, write report authors. The vast majority of printing, however, is now done through digital distribution, says the report.

The move from paper means agencies are not complying with Title 44 (.pdf) of the U.S. Code, which requires agencies to submit documents to the Federal Depository Library Program.

Despite FDLP's outreach to agencies on the subject, none of the 32 agencies GAO interviewed submit their digital documents to FDLP, write report authors. Report authors say, the GPO is following recent recommendations from the National Academy of Public Administration that it "develop a plan to preserve and collect government documents, and include a process for ingesting digitized copies into GPO's online government publications system."

For more:
- download the report, GAO-12-636 (.pdf)

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