ARCHIVED: FY 1997 Appropriations for the Government Printing Office

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ADMINISTRATIVE NOTES, VOL. 17, #05 (Mar. 15, 1996)



Tuesday, March 5, 1996


Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, I am pleased to present the funding requirements of the Government Printing Office (GPO) for FY 1997.


For FY 1997, I am requesting $114.6 million for those programs that require annual appropriations directly to GPO. This is an increase of less than one-half of one percent over the funding approved for FY 1996. The request includes $83.8 million for the Congressional Printing and Binding Appropriation and $30.8 million for the Salaries and Expenses Appropriation of the Superintendent of Documents. The request for the Salaries and Expenses Appropriation includes a plan for the transition of the Federal Depository Library Program from ink-on-paper dissemination to predominately electronic information dissemination, in accordance with the requirement contained in section 210 of the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act for FY 1996 (P.L. 104-53).


Cost Savings through Downsizing:

The financial picture at GPO is significantly improved over what it was a year ago. The year-end loss, which was $21.8 million in FY 1994, was approximately $3 million in FY 1995, a decrease of 86 percent. The loss represented less than four-tenths of one percent of GPO s total FY 1995 revenues of $852.6 million, and was funded out of GPO s retained earnings. One of the most important cost and performance indicators--personnel compensation and benefits--decreased by $14 million during the year, or slightly more than 6 percent. Most of this decrease, more than $9 million, occurred in GPO s printing plant area. During the year, GPO s financial statements were audited by Arthur Andersen, under contract with the General Accounting Office. The audit resulted in a clean opinion for GPO.

Because GPO s regional printing plants continued to lose money in FY 1995, it is no longer feasible to continue most of these operations. Last year we closed the Seattle regional printing plant. This year we plan to close the Chicago, New York, and San Francisco plants. These downsizing and consolidation measures follow the recent consolidation of Superintendent of Documents operations from leased to owned space at GPO s central office, the downsizing of warehouse space in Virginia, and the relocation of Rapid Response Center operations from the Washington, DC, Navy Yard to the central office plant.

Modernization in technology and increased operational efficiencies have enabled substantial reductions in GPO s workforce. Since February 1993, GPO has reduced its workforce by approximately 900 positions, realizing a savings of about $45 million annually. The number of supervisors has also been reduced. Of the 4,000 positions reduced from the workforce through improved technological productivity in the past 20 years, nearly a quarter has been reduced in the past three years. By September 1996, GPO will meet the mandated FTE level of 3,800. We recently conducted an early-out retirement program that resulted in the reduction of 94 positions. We are currently operating another early-out program that will run until May 1996.

To achieve savings, additional workforce downsizing will continue. However, the extent of the downsizing must be managed carefully so that it does not impair GPO s ability to perform its mission to serve Congress. GPO has been able to accommodate significant statutory FTE reductions in recent years without impairing services. Continued reductions of these sizes, however, will deprive GPO of the flexibility to process work expeditiously.


Congress was in session longer this past year compared to the previous year, generating more pages of the Congressional Record. For the first session of the 104th Congress, there were a total of 35,003 pages of House and Senate proceedings, compared with a total of 27,044 pages for the second session of the 103d Congress, an increase of 29 percent. On the first day of the 104th Congress alone, the Congressional Record totaled 603 pages. Throughout FY 1995, the Record was delivered on time 97 percent of the time; instances of lateness were usually due to late sessions. Overall, however, other congressional workload levels were moderate, especially in the latter part of the year.

At the same time, overtime utilization during FY 1995 decreased 21 percent, yielding a reduction in overtime costs of $2.6 million, or 19 percent, compared with the previous year. The reduction in overtime was due to a combination of factors, including a new policy under which supervisors are provided with compensatory time off in lieu of overtime, less overtime worked by GPO details to Congress due to improved overtime management by the committees and GPO staff, increased efforts by GPO to improve the scheduling of work and control overtime use, and a relatively moderate congressional workload.

During the Government-wide shutdown in November 1995, GPO s production and congressional printing management operations remained at work at the request of the House and Senate leadership to provide legislative products essential to the orderly conduct of congressional business.

GPO processed an increased dollar volume of procured printing during the year. Total revenues from printing procurement were $574.7 million, compared with $526.8 million the previous year, an increase of 9 percent. The rise in dollar value was attributable in part to increased paper prices in the private sector. GPO attained a 94 percent on time delivery rate and a 99 percent quality acceptance rate for procured printing during FY 1995.

During the year, GPO established a direct-deal term contract to be used by Members of Congress for the printing of personal office requirements, such as newsletters, schedules, miscellaneous stationery items, business cards, and other needs not provided for by Title 44.

Technology Improvements:

GPO continued to make operational improvements during the year, taking advantage as much as possible of new technology to deliver products and services. Three state-of-the-art offset presses are now operational for producing the Congressional Record and the Federal Register. We operate print-on-demand capabilities, which are networked to our automated composition system, at our plant and on-site for the Senate. We provided assistance in establishing a similar print-on-demand capability for the House. The on-site print-on-demand systems on Capitol Hill are designed to reduce the volume of documents stored in the House and Senate document rooms. In addition, we have a pilot program in place to test the use of a print-on-demand capability in GPO s main bookstore for the remote printing of Government publications downloaded from GPO Access, GPO s online information dissemination service. Depending on the results, this service could be extended to GPO s other bookstores located nationwide.

GPO Access Service:

GPO Access features fully searchable online access to the daily Congressional Record for the second session of the 103d Congress and for the 104th Congress to date, the Congressional Record Index from 1983 forward, the daily Federal Register from 1994 to date, the Unified Agenda of Federal Regulations from 1994 and 1995, congressional bills from the 103d and 104th Congresses, the History of Bills from 1983 forward, the recent hearing on campaign reform legislation, Jefferson s Manual and Rules of the House of Representatives, Economic Indicators, General Accounting Office reports, the U.S. Government Manual, the Congressional Directory, House and Senate calendars for the 104th Congress, the Privacy Act, the U.S. Code, the U.S. Budget for FY 1997, and Government Information Locator (GILS) records from a variety of different agencies, including the Office of Management and Budget and the Departments of Commerce, State, and Treasury. GILS is a decentralized collection of agency-based information locators using network technology and international standards to direct users to relevant information resources within the Government. Additional databases, including the Code of Federal Regulations, are under development. GPO-produced databases for the Record and other legislative information form the core of the Library of Congress s THOMAS legislative information service and the information services provided by House Information Resources (HIR).

Last year GPO completed acquisition of a new Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML) software package that will provide the most flexibility and capability for meeting the requirements of congressional, Federal agency, and public information needs, in accordance with the intent of the GPO Electronic Information Access Enhancement Act of 1993 (P.L. 103-40). Use of SGML as a documents standard for legislative information products was also recommended by the House task force that prepared An Information Systems Program Plan for the U.S. House of Representatives in November 1995. In September 1995, a multi-agency pilot program was initiated for the purpose of standardizing electronic submissions in SGML for documents published in the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations.

Public acceptance and utilization of GPO Access have expanded dramatically in the past year. In March 1995, GPO was the recipient of the annual James Madison Award, sponsored by the Coalition on Government Information, for enhancing public access to Government information. In December 1995 we announced that the service would be provided at no charge. Utilization increased exponentially following the announcement, to approximately 7,000 document downloads per hour, the equivalent of nearly five million document downloads per month (these are measured as actual document downloads by GPO s Wide Area Information Server--WAIS--rather than simply as file or system transactions). During the Government-wide shutdown in November, GPO Access was the only Government information system providing daily online access to the Congressional Record, Federal Register, and other important information.

Other Online Improvements:

In 1995 we inaugurated a GPO home page linking users electronically with a wide variety of GPO information services. These services now include the electronic posting of bid solicitations to enhance competitive opportunities for Government printing contracts among private sector printers. Along with electronic funds transfer and related measures, this feature is in keeping with other Government-wide electronic commerce initiatives. GPO s home page also links users with GPO Access via the World Wide Web, although GPO Access also remains available to users who do not have access to the Web via dialup and telnet capabilities, and through a network of electronic gateways established in cooperation with participating depository libraries nationwide.

These and other operational improvements, combined with GPO s ongoing downsizing, are transforming GPO into a smaller but more technologically proficient information service to meet the demands of Congress, Federal agencies, and the public.


Estimated Requirements and Workload:

Our FY 1997 request for the Congressional Printing and Binding Appropriation of $83.8 million is the same as the level appropriated in the current fiscal year. Workforce downsizing, improved production efficiencies, and reductions in the number of copies distributed have reduced the cost of congressional printing. The Congressional Printing and Binding Appropriation has declined in each year since FY 1992, a reduction of 6.3 percent over the period. This reduction has been achieved despite the need to fund pay raises, substantial increases in the cost of paper, and other mandatory increases.

The major categories of work produced for Congress include the Congressional Record, committee hearings, bills, resolutions, amendments, committee prints and reports, documents, stationery, franks, and business and committee calendars. The volume of work required by Congress varies based on the legislative schedules of each session of Congress, as well as other factors which sometimes are unpredictable.

Based on historical analysis of workload data by session, we anticipate there will be a reduction in work for the Congressional Record, committee and business calendars, committee reports, documents, miscellaneous printing and binding, and details to Congress. Cost reductions in these categories of printing will offset projected cost increases for workload increases in other categories. We project an increase of about 23,000 pages of committee prints, 13,000 pages of bills, resolutions, and amendments, and 11,000 pages of hearings. We also project an increase of 6,000 pages for miscellaneous publications, which will include a revised printing of the U.S. Constitution and miscellaneous Presidential inaugural products.

Cost Savings Initiatives:

In 1996 we plan to reduce the page rate for the Congressional Record to reflect productivity gains in production as well as the requirement for a reduced number of copies. The new rate will be $435 per page, as opposed to the old rate of $466, a reduction of 6.7 percent. In addition, we will offer a discount of $39 per page to encourage the submission of Record copy in electronic format, much as we do for the Federal Register. For those pages submitted electronically, there will be an overall page rate reduction of 15 percent from the old rate.

Currently, very little Record copy for House proceedings is submitted electronically to GPO, although we are fully prepared to accept it. Electronic submissions on the Senate side currently range from 30 to 40 percent of Record copy. The House began submitting proceedings in electronic format via fiber optic links with GPO in late November 1995. In early February 1996, staff of GPO s Congressional Printing Management Division met with staff of the Office of the Clerk of the House to discuss measures for increasing the transmission to GPO of electronic files of legislative data that are captured at the source in the House, as well as measures to expedite the printing process for a variety of products. The discussions were helpful and we look forward to working with the Office of the Clerk to improve printing services for the House and further reduce costs.

Other cost savings in congressional printing are being achieved as the result of congressional action. In its report on H.R. 1854, and in the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act for FY 1996, the House Appropriations Committee and Congress directed a number of cost saving measures aimed primarily at reducing the number of paper copies of various congressional publications distributed without charge.

The total distribution of copies of the Congressional Record in paper has been cut from 16,935 to 10,615, a reduction of 6,320 copies per issue, based primarily on the direction to eliminate the distribution of copies to public agencies and institutions designated by House Members. This will save about $1.5 million annually. A plan for reducing the number of copies of hearings provided to originating House committees from 300 to 150 is being developed in cooperation with the Joint Committee on Printing. Special binding for House committees has been limited to two copies per publication. Funding for free copies of congressional publications distributed by Congress without charge to recipients designated by law, with the exception of depository libraries, has been eliminated. Recipients affected include former Members, judges, the Library of Congress, and various Government agencies. The free distribution of soil surveys by Members of Congress has been eliminated. As directed by this Subcommittee, GPO is continuing to work with the staff of the Joint Committee on Printing to carry out these reductions in a reasonable manner, providing certain exemptions in order to meet legislative needs. We also plan to end the issuance of bulk shipments of Record copies to Congress. Instead, each copy will be labeled to facilitate accountability for all copies printed.

Additional cost savings will be achieved through a new arrangement for the printing of letterheads for Members of the House, under which the House will no longer furnish the stock for printing. GPO will furnish the stock and perform the printing when requested, reducing paper storage costs to the House.

Library of Congress Legislative Information Service Plan:

Section 209 of the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act for FY 1996 directed the Library of Congress to develop a plan for the creation of a single legislative information system to serve the entire Congress. GPO had limited opportunities to comment on the development of this plan and, at the Library s request, any GPO comments were at the staff level. We recently managed to obtain a copy of the final Library plan which was transmitted to the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations, the House Committee on House Oversight, and the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration. We are currently reviewing the plan, and will transmit formal comments to the Library as well as these committees, including this Subcommittee.

We have serious concerns about the Library s plan for a single legislative information service to serve both Congress and the public, which apparently would be run under the direction of the Library. The GPO Access service was created by public law to provide public access to official legislative and other Government information. Many congressional offices now utilize it, it has a vast number of public users, and it has become a critical component of the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP).

The transition plan we are submitting with this appropriation request for the conversion of the FDLP to a predominately electronic basis, in response to a statutory requirement in the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act for FY 1996, depends on the utilization and expansion of GPO Access. To the best of our knowledge, there was no consultation by the Library with the ongoing depository library study group, also created in response to a statutory requirement in P.L. 104-53, about the impact of its plan for a single legislative information service on the future of public access through the FDLP, nor does there appear to have been any consultation on this plan with the library community at large.

There is clearly a need for a discussion of the roles, responsibilities, and capabilities of the various legislative support agencies in providing legislative information services. However, the Library s plan presents only one option, and we have not been provided with enough information on the alternatives that were considered by the Library to know if this is the best option. These comments, as well as others, will be included in the formal comments on the Library s plan that we will transmit to Congress.


Estimated Requirements:

Our FY 1997 request for the Salaries and Expenses Appropriation of the Superintendent of Documents is $30.8 million. This is an increase of $520,000, or 1.7 percent, over the funding approved for FY 1996, but a reduction of $780,000, or 2.5 percent, from the funding approved for FY 1995. The request includes increases of $500,000 for technology grants to depository libraries and an additional $20,000 in travel for promoting training and continuing education opportunities for the librarians. Both of these initiatives are part of the transition plan to convert the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) to predominately electronic information dissemination.

The Salaries and Expenses Appropriation funds the FDLP ($27.2 million, or 88 percent of the total Salaries and Expenses Appropriation request, is for this program), the Cataloging and Indexing Progcourage all agencies to provide electronic source files in standard formats suitable for online use. These are workable options that will move the FDLP affirmatively in the direction of a predominately electronic program over a relatively short term period without compromising the FDLP s capability to effectively serve the public, and without exceeding ongoing fiscal constraints.


GPO s revolving fund, established by section 309 of Title 44, is authorized on an annual basis. Appropriations are not requested for the fund, because the fund is designed to recover costs through offsetting collections for services provided. Revenue is received from Government agencies for printing procurement, printing production, publications distribution services performed for agencies, and from the public for the sale of Government publications.

FTE Level:

The statutory FTE level contained in the revolving fund authorization is requested at 3,750. With a beginning FTE level of 3,800, an overall FTE utilization level of 3,750 for the year will require GPO to reduce by another 100 FTE s, to a year-end level of 3,700. In view of the significant personnel reductions GPO has made in recent years, continued downsizing must now be managed carefully in order not to deprive GPO of the flexibility necessary to process fluctuating workload levels, especially workload for Congress.

Proposed Rate Adjustment:

The revolving fund has sustained losses since FY 1991 due primarily to the fact that GPO s printing rates have not been adjusted since late 1989/early 1990, an unparalleled length of time for no price adjustment. During that period mandatory expenses have increased, particularly personnel expenses, which have risen by 21 percent since 1989. Section 309 requires that the revolving fund be reimbursed for the full cost of services. This requirement has not been effectively implemented under the existing rate mechanism.

Accordingly, I recently proposed an increase in GPO s printing rates of 9.67 percent. The adjustment would apply to the hourly rates for products and services produced in GPO s printing plant only. While the adjustment would affect congressional printing, it has already been built into the appropriation estimate provided to this Subcommittee. Moreover, the adjustment would not affect products produced on a page-rate basis, including the Congressional Record; the proposed decrease in the Record page rate will be implemented as described earlier.

The revenues derived from the rate adjustment will be used to cover the cost of providing production services in GPO s plant plus other costs allocated to the plant, including supplies and materials, utilities, and indirect supervisory and administrative support. This measure is necessary for the responsible administration of GPO s finances under section 309. I have communicated this proposal to the Joint Committee on Printing where it is under consideration.


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