GPO looks for sales help

GPO Vendor RFI

Government Printing Office officials this week issued a request for information to private vendors that can update the agency's sales program, following unsuccessful attempts to increase visibility.

The agency, which is responsible for the lifecycle of printed government documents, seeks private partners to provide its sales and agency distribution programs with a revenue sharing model. Last July, the Government Accountability Office released a report showing that GPO had experienced steep declines in printing volumes and revenues from document sales.

The declines, according to GAO, were a direct result of agencies publishing more of their documents on the Web or bypassing GPO when they printed and distributed information.

Now the agency wants to use commercial advanced technologies to sell, produce and distribute its tangible products to the public. For example, GPO officials said a vendor might take over GPO's online bookstore.

"We are looking for suggestions and innovative ideas from vendors on what a new sales program would look like," said GPO spokeswoman Veronica Meter.

The RFP states GPO officials want to "move the official GPO brand into mainstream information dissemination channels." Last month, sales officials just began posting electronic bibliographic records in Online Information Exchange (ONIX) to reach book dealers – a practice already performed by private sector publishers. ONIX is the publishing industry's standard electronic format for sharing product data.

Bestselling GPO publications include The United States Government Manual, The Constitution and The Declaration of Independence. The public, academia and the legal profession are some of GPO’s best customers.

In fiscal 2004, GPO distributed nearly 4.5 million sales copies, earning about $25 million in revenue, with costs nearing 25 percent of this amount.

The chosen vendor would serve as the "Official Agent" of the GPO, according to the RFI. Duties might include inventory, sales, marketing, fulfillment, customer service and storage.

Interested parties should submit statements, detailing their approaches, by May 4.

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