End GPO's print monopoly

The article "A reformed federal printing law soon? Don't hold your breath" [FCW, Feb. 16] by J. Timothy Sprehe is an excellent summary of the present Government Printing Office/ agency situation. I am glad you have maintained a continued interest over the years in GPO's monopoly over federal agency printing programs.

I retired from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) a couple years ago but have had, for many years, a foremost desire for a revision of the federal printing statutes that will do away with the antiquated and inefficient monopoly GPO has over agency printing and that will give agencies increased flexibility, higher quality, decreased job turnaround time and lower costs for their printing programs.

My strong interest is the result of years of personal dealings with GPO and the Joint Committee on Printing as publications officer for NCHS, as former chairman of the Federal Publishers Committee and as a member of the Printing Council. Much has changed— for the better— in the relationships between agencies and GPO from the "old days" when the GPO approach was "we will give you your printing when we want to and how we want to and will charge you what we want to because you have to go through us."

Over the years, pressure from the agencies and the advent of new technology forced GPO to deal with agency printing needs in a much more responsive manner.

However, this increased responsiveness on GPO's part has not, nor will it ever, do away with the fundamental problems created when one part of the government insists that it control all printing by all agencies. This approach has created within GPO some of the most awful bureaucratic structures ever conceived, resulting in duplications of effort, massive communications breakdowns, inflexibility in meeting agency printing requirements and decreased product quality. The annual agency printing bill is in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and the increased cost to the American taxpayers caused by this GPO bureaucratic nightmare over the past 150 years is incalculable.

I am with you when you say do not hold your breath waiting for the enactment of a revision to Title 44. In my past dealings with GPO and the Joint Committee on Printing, I became fully aware of the power of unions and strong local congressional support. However, I hope Congress fully understands the importance of allowing agencies to handle their own printing and will move rapidly to modify this ancient Title 44 vehicle that established, and has supported, the evil empire.

John E. (Jack) Mounts

via e-mail

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