Fed printing cleared for competition

The Government Printing Office plans to develop an electronic Web portal to connect federal agencies to a nationwide network of approved printers who have agreed to offer the lowest rates for their services, according to the White House.

The action resolves a heated debate over whether federal agencies should be able to choose their own private-sector printers instead of using GPO. Under an agreement between GPO and the Office of Management and Budget, agencies will be able to negotiate the best price with a printer utilizing GPO's portal.

Bruce James, the U.S. public printer, said the agreement allows federal agencies to "competitively choose their own printers and creates a system to provide the American public with better access to more government information than ever before."

GPO officials had been resisting the idea of allowing agencies to contract out their own printing jobs because it would make it harder to ensure that every federal document was listed in the federal depository library program.

GPO will be able to keep track of the documents because it is in charge of the portal and tracks the payments from agencies.

James said the agreement provides a system to efficiently manage the buying of the government's declining printing needs because more and more information is available online.

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