Rule would break GPO monopoly

The proposed rule

Federal agencies soon could be buying printing services via the Internet under a proposed rule released Dec. 13 by the Office of Management and Budget.

According to the rule, which is intended to break the Government Printing Office's lock on agency print jobs, the General Services Administration may set up a multiple award schedule for printing companies, as it has done for technology vendors.

All companies on the schedule would be able to compete for projects worth more than $2,500, and all such orders would go through GSA's e-Buy, an online system through which agencies can solicit bids on product or service procurements.

The multiple award schedule would be used to "maximize participation by all types of printers, including small business," the rule states.

Eliminating restrictions that mandated GPO as the single source for print services and "frees agencies to select printing from a wide array of sources that can demonstrate their ability to meet the government's needs most effectively," according to the proposed rule, which would amend the Federal Acquisition Regulation.

Although federal officials have publicly discussed tossing out the GPO mandate since 1994, OMB stepped up the campaign in a May 2002 memorandum disparaging the "government monopoly."

OMB's memo criticized "the use of outdated specifications, the failure to take advantage of cost saving technology and reliance on costly distribution channels."

OMB's new policy, according to the proposed rule, "is designed to help agencies overcome these shortcomings by giving them the power of choice."

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