Half of government documents 'born digital,' public printer says

Public Printer Bruce James recently returned to the Rochester Institute of Technology, his alma mater and the school that launched his 40-year publishing career, to talk about printing.

After nearly four years of leading the U.S. Government Printing Office into the Digital Age as its chief executive officer, James recently announced he will go back to his home in Nevada by year’s end.

Late last month, he delivered a keynote address at the institute focusing on the latest American revolution: printing.

“We estimate that as many as 50 percent of all federal government documents are now born digital, published to the Web, and will never be printed by the GPO,” James said.

He introduced a new business unit called Digital Media Services that will train GPO employees in 21st-century workforce skills, while providing document-scanning services for the agency’s customers.

After they have completed their training, some employees will rotate back to other business units where they will apply their newly learned skills, James said.

He also discussed the ongoing development of the agency’s first Web-based document distribution system.

“Eventually, all known federal documents, whether printed or born digital, produced both prospectively and retrospectively, will be cataloged and authenticated and then entered into the system according to GPO metadata and document creation standards,” he said.

The content captured can go beyond text and graphics to video, sound and other new media “that may come to be,” he said.

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