H.R. 5424 To Provide for Improved Administration in Public Printing Services and Distribution of Documents

Gao ID: 112394 May 21, 1980

Comments were provided on the adequacy of the Government Printing Office's (GPO) current structure for managing the printing and distribution of public documents, and on reviews GAO has undertaken concerning GPO. Until 1973, GAO's work at GPO was primarily directed at certifying the accuracy of GPO's financial statements. However, since 1973, GAO has issued 24 reports on GPO activities. These reports recommended improvements to the procedures and practices within the established structure of GPO in order to provide adequate and credible service to the Government and to the general public. During the course of the reviews, GAO found that the current organizational structure of GPO was not the most appropriate to achieve and satisfy total Government printing and distribution needs. Under the current structure, the Joint Committee on Printing supervises the actions of GPO and the various agency printing plants which have to be specifically chartered by the Committee. The Joint Committee on Printing also reports on printing bills, writes regulations, and establishes criteria to be followed in printing. This concentration of authority within a single agency has created a number of problems. Some of the problems indicated are that: (1) agencies have complained about GPO's untimeliness in procuring printing for agencies; and (2) the current structure does not provide executive agencies sufficient flexibility to exercise their own expertise in procuring printing or to establish the size and workload for their own printing plants. GAO believes that a possible alternative to the current structure is one in which management control over executive agencies' printing of public documents would be vested in a controlling organization within the executive branch with GPO retaining responsibility for legislative branch printing.

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