Turnaround at the Government Printing Office
Situation Before: In the late 1990s, the Government Printing Office was still an old-fashioned printing house while the rest of the world was taking advantage of 21st century digital information processing technology. The print-centric culture of the agency was not well suited to the digital age and imposed recurring costs on taxpayers that were unnecessary. In the late 1990s, the GPO suffered cumulative financial losses of over $100 million.
Actions Taken: Public Printer Bruce James set out to put GPO’s operations back on track both organizationally and financially. In December of 2004, GPO put into place a “Strategic Vision for the 21st Century,” which will serve as the basis for all of GPO’s future policies and procedures. The core of GPO’s future operations will revolve around the creation of a Future Digital System, designed to organize, manage, and output authenticated content for any purpose. Eventually, all known Federal documents, whether printed or digital, will be cataloged, authenticated and entered into the system.
GPO has also invested significantly in its internal production capabilities, including new color and digital production technologies. It has also created a new business line for Security and Intelligent Documents, which include passports and Federal identification cards, to offer a broad range of services to Federal agencies as they respond to new standards and statutory requirements in this area
Also, in order to restore GPO’s fiscal health, GPO carried out a major workforce restructuring that reduced staffing by more than 630 positions, or 20 percent of the workforce. It did this almost entirely through retirement incentive programs and managed attrition, and without the need for layoffs.
Results: GPO’s retirement incentive programs cut GPO’s annual payroll costs by approximately $46 million, and by 2004, GPO reported an operating surplus of $11.2 million, its first annual profit in five years. It reported an even better financial performance and larger net income in 2005.
GPO Access, an online resource that provides free electronic access to a wealth of information produced by the Federal government, now holds more than 300,000 titles, with an average of 37 million retrieved by users every month.
GPO has also shifted its resources to reflect the new digital age. It spends 50 percent less distributing print publications to depository libraries, and uses the savings to help finance increased electronic access.
In recognition of the remarkable accomplishments of the GPO, Public Printer Bruce James was Government Computer News’ 2006 Executive of the Year.