|Formed||March 4, 1861|
|Jurisdiction||Federal government of the United States|
732 North Capitol St. NW|
|Annual budget||US$126,200,000 (2012); approx. US$135 million (2011)|
|Parent agency||United States Congress Joint Committee on Printing|
The United States Government Publishing Office (GPO) (formerly the Government Printing Office) is an agency of the legislative branch of the United States federal government. The office prints and binds documents produced by and for the federal government, including the Supreme Court, the Congress, the Executive Office of the President, executive departments, and independent agencies.
In December 2014 an omnibus spending bill funding US federal government operations was passed which included a provision changing the name from Government Printing Office to Government Publishing Office. Following signature by the President, the change took effect on December 17, 2014.
The Government Publishing Office was created by congressional joint resolution (12 Stat. 117) on June 23, 1860. It began operations March 4, 1861, with 350 employees and reached a peak employment of 8,500 in 1972. The agency began transformation to computer technology in the 1980s; along with the gradual replacement of paper with electronic document distribution, this has led to a steady decline in the number of staff at the agency. For its entire history, GPO has occupied the corner of North Capitol Street NW and H Street NW in the District of Columbia. The large red brick building that houses the GPO was erected in 1903 and is unusual in being one of the few large, red brick government structures in a city where most government buildings are mostly marble and granite. (The Smithsonian Castle and the Pension Building, now the National Building Museum, are other exceptions.) An additional structure was attached to its north in later years. The activities of GPO are defined in the public printing and documents chapters of Title 44 of the United States Code. The Director (formerly the Public Printer), who serves as the head of GPO, is appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. The Director selects a Superintendent of Documents.
The Superintendent of Documents (SuDocs) is in charge of the dissemination of information at the GPO. This is accomplished through the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP), the Cataloging and Indexing Program and the Publication Sales Program, as well as operation of the Federal Citizen Information Center in Pueblo, Colorado. Adelaide Hasse was the founder of the Superintendent of Documents classification system.
GPO first used 100 percent recycled paper for the Congressional Record and Federal Register from 1991-1997, under Public Printers Robert Houk and Michael DiMario. GPO resumed using recycled paper in 2009.
In March 2011, GPO issued a new illustrated official history covering the agency's 150 years of Keeping America Informed.
With demand for print publications falling and a move underway to digital document production and preservation, the name of the GPO was officially changed to "Government Publishing Office" in a provision of an omnibus government funding bill passed by Congress in December 2014. Following signature of this legislation by President Barack Obama, the name change took place on December 17, 2014.
By law, the Public Printer heads the GPO. The position of Public Printer traces its roots back to Benjamin Franklin and the period before the American Revolution, when he served as "publick printer," whose job was to produce official government documents for Pennsylvania and other colonies. When the agency was renamed in December 2014 the title "Public Printer" was also changed to "Director." Davita Vance-Cooks was therefore the first "Director" of GPO.
GPO contracts out much of the federal government's printing but prints the official journals of government in-house, including:
GPO has been producing U.S. passports since the 1920s. The United States Department of State began issuing e-passports in 2006. The e-Passport includes an electronic chip embedded in the cover that contains the same information that is printed in the passport: name, date and place of birth, sex, dates of passport issuance and expiration, passport number, and photo of the bearer. GPO produces the blank e-Passport, while the Department of State receives and processes applications and issues individual passports. GPO ceased production of legacy passports in May 2007, shifting production entirely to e-passports.
In March 2008, the Washington Times published a three-part story about the outsourcing of electronic passports to overseas companies, including one in Thailand that was subject to Chinese espionage.
Official Presidential Photograph |
printed by GPO
|American Artifacts: Government Printing Office (29:47), C‑SPAN|
GPO publishes the U.S. Government Printing Office Style Manual. Among the venerable series are Foreign Relations of the United States for the Department of State (since 1861), and Public Papers of the Presidents, covering the administrations of Presidents Herbert Hoover onward (except Franklin D. Roosevelt, whose papers were privately printed). GPO published the Statistical Abstract of the United States for the Census Bureau from 1878 to 2012.
Security for GPO facilities is provided by the Government Publishing Office Police. The force is part of the GPO's Physical Security Group and in 2003 had 53 officers. Officers are appointed under Title 44 USC § 317 by the Public Printer (or his delegate). Their duty is to "protect persons and property in premises and adjacent areas occupied by or under the control of the Government Printing Office". Officers are authorized to bear and use arms in the performance of their duties, make arrests for violations of federal and state law, (and that of Washington, DC) and enforce the regulations of the Public Printer, including requiring the removal from GPO premises of individuals who violate such regulations. Officers have concurrent jurisdiction with the law enforcement agencies where the premises are located.