The Government Printing Office (GPO) opened its doors the day that Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated as the 16th President of the United States. It was created by Congress in June 1860 and began operations on in March 1861. For the past 152 years, the GPO has played a critical role in keeping the nation informed by publishing essential congressional titles and a myriad of publications from the executive & judicial branch of government.
But the demand for federal print products has declined by half over the past twenty years, while the demand for information that government creates has only increased. At present nearly 97 percent of federal documents are now created electronically.
GPO leaders have made great progress in “rebooting” the agency for the digital age by moving from a print-centric to a content -centric focus.
For several years,GPO worked on developing the state-of-the-art search interface, FdSys, that succeeded the long-standing GPO Access front end. GPO has also developed software to assure the authenticity of the digital information it provides.
The new GPO mantra is “Official, Digital, Secure”.
GPO has also moved into the expanding field of producing secure credentials and passports for the government.
The division of GPO most traditionally related to public access to government information, the Federal Depository Library Program ( FDLP), has also been fundamentally affected by technological change.(p.39) With information available on the open web, participation in the program, will now mean accepting responsibility for expert assistance for locating and utilizing online government information.
While GPO has been moving in a new direction, it’s legacy name, Government Printing Office, still harkens back to a previous era that is disappearing fast. Moving into the future requires a re-branding of the GPO to truly reflect and facilitate its emerging new identity.
The new Public Printer DavitaVance-Cooks calls “Government Printing Office ” a misnomer. “I personally believe we should be called Government Publishing Office,” Now Congress is officially moving to rename the agency.
On Jan 22, 2014, Senators Amy Klobuchar and Saxby Chambliss introduced legislation to change the U.S. Government Printing Office’s (GPO) name to the Government Publishing Office. April 15, 2014, the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration has moved it forward for full Senate for consideration.
The time for officially recognizing the growing digital nature of the GPO, is long overdue. Hopefully, soon it will be known as the “Government Publishing Office”.