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Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is the GPO?
With just 1,900 employees, GPO is the Federal Government's primary centralized resource for producing, procuring, cataloging, indexing, authenticating, disseminating, and preserving the official information products of the U.S. Government in digital and tangible forms. The agency is responsible for the production and distribution of information products for all three branches of the Federal Government, including U.S. passports for the Department of State as well as the official publications of Congress, the White House and other Federal agencies, and the courts.
Along with sales of publications in digital and tangible formats to the public, GPO supports openness and transparency in Government by providing permanent public access to Federal Government information at no charge through its Federal Digital System ( and through partnerships with approximately 1,200 libraries nationwide participating in the Federal Depository Library Program.
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Q. Why do we need GPO?
Established more than 150 years ago, GPO's mission can be traced to the requirement in Article I of the Constitution that each House keep a journal of its proceedings and from time to time publish the same. Its operations produce the materials required to conduct the legislative processes in Congress and the statutory processes of the executive and judicial branches. GPO's information dissemination programs provide public access to the official publications and information of the Government.

Q. What does GPO do?
GPO's prepress operations are organized for the creation of databases from which digital products can be produced for public access via FDsys and tangible products can be produced to fulfill the requirements of Congress and Federal agencies. GPO's legislative information databases are shared with the Library of Congress for the operation of the THOMAS information system and for the legislative information systems provided by the Library to the House and Senate. GPO makes Senate conference reports available online in advance of a vote, and GPO is developing a system for making the Constitutional Authority Statements required for House legislation available online.
Through GPO's efforts, the online Federal Register is being made available in XML to support bulk data downloads via and GPO developed the online Federal Register 2.0. GPO's advanced authentication systems, supported by Public Key Infrastructure, are an essential component for assuring the digital security of congressional and agency documents. The agency is currently working with the Library of Congress to digitize historical documents, including the Statutes at Large and the Congressional Record, and in collaboration with the Library GPO will provide updated digital access to the Constitution Annotated. Since GPO first began computerizing its prepress functions in the 1970s, the agency's use of digital information technology has generated productivity improvements that have reduced the cost of congressional information products by approximately 66% in real economic terms. Since GPO first began providing free online access to Government documents in the early 1990s, similar reductions have been achieved in the cost of disseminating information to the public.
GPO produces all U.S. passports for the State Department and secure credentials for a variety of agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security. Passports contain advanced electronic and print security systems consistent with international standards and agreements. Passport operations are located in Washington, DC, and southwest Mississippi. GPO is the only Federal agency certified to graphically personalize/print HSPD-12 secure identification cards on a government-to-government basis. Its passport and smart card operations are also certified by the International Standards Organization.
GPO's print production operations are configured primarily to meet the basic needs of Congress, but include fine bookbinding operations for those publications that continue to require this specialty. Since the early 1990s, papers used by GPO's production operations contain a minimum of 30% postconsumer waste (PCW) recycled content, with some papers--such as the newsprint used to produce the Congressional Record and the Federal Register--including 100% PCW content. Since 1994, all inks used by GPO are made with sustainable vegetable oils.
GPO also develops mobile Web applications (app) for major mobile devices platforms. The agency’s first mobile app of the online Member Guide provides the public with access to photos and other information about Members of Congress. For the first time, GPO made the President’s Budget for the U.S. Government available as an app. The FY 2013 Budget app provides users with access to the text and images of the FY 2013 Budget, including the Budget Message of the President, information on the President’s priorities, and budget overviews organized by agency. The app provides links to FDsys where summary tables and additional books of the Budget, including the Analytical Perspectives, Appendix, and Historical Tables are available. GPO also supported the Library of Congress in its development of a Congressional Record app for the iPad, as requested by the Committee on House Administration. For more information on GPO’s app developments, visit:

Q. How does GPO work with the printing industry?
GPO has a longstanding partnership with the private sector printing industry that provides for the procurement of information products for the entire Government. GPO purchases approximately $350 - $400 million annually from private sector vendors nationwide for our agency customers. GPO regularly procures approximately 75% of all the products ordered annually (other than passports and secure credentials), including Social Security cards, census and tax forms, Medicaid and Medicare materials, and a wide variety of other products. All printed products ordered by GPO comply with current sustainability requirements. Contracts are awarded on a purely competitive basis; there are no set-asides or preferences in contracting other than what is specified in law and regulation, including a requirement for Buy American.
GPO's procurement program provides great economic opportunity for the private sector. The majority of the firms GPO deals with are small businesses of 20 employees or less. The total number of contractors registered to do business with GPO is currently 16,000, representing potentially 332,000 private sector jobs. GPO has regional and satellite procurement offices nationwide to support the needs of regional Federal agencies in Atlanta, Boston, Charleston SC, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Denver, Hampton VA, New York, Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle.

Q. How does the GPO make documents available to the public?
GPO's primary information dissemination program involves another longstanding partnership with 1,200 Federal depository libraries nationwide. Today, the partnership is predominately electronic, but tangible formats are distributed where online equivalents are not available.
Federal depository libraries serve as one of the vital links between "We the People" and our Government. Anyone can visit Federal depository libraries and use the Federal documents collections, which are filled with information on careers, business opportunities, health and nutrition, laws and regulations, statistical data, demographics, consumer information, and numerous other subjects. Participating libraries can be located via
GPO also disseminates a massive amount of Federal information online free of charge through the Federal Digital System (FDsys, at FDsys has approximately 380,000 Government documents available across 41 collections. Since launching the Web site in January 2009, has achieved more than 200 million retrievals.
In addition, GPO provides for public sale of Government publications via its traditional and online bookstores, and offers eBooks through a partnership with Google eBooks. GPO operates facilities in Laurel, MD, and Pueblo, CO, that fulfill orders for Government publications.

Q. How is the GPO funded?
GPO operates on a revolving fund basis, like a business. Total revenues for FY 2011 were $821.1 million, including $362.1 million in pass-through payments to procurement vendors. Approximately 14.7 % of GPO’s funding comes from direct appropriation, comprising less than 3% of the overall legislative branch budget. Appropriated funds are to cover the cost of congressional work (and may only be accessed when work is performed as ordered by Congress) and the depository library program and supporting distribution programs. Total appropriations for FY 2012 are $126.2 million. All other revenues to GPO are reimbursements from agencies for work performed or sales of publications to the public.

Q. Who runs the GPO?
As an agency of the legislative branch of the Government, GPO is headed by the Public Printer of the United States, who serves as the agency's chief executive officer. The Public Printer is nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. Davita Vance-Cooks, appointed as Deputy Public Printer in December 2011, currently serves as Acting Public Printer.

Q. How do I get documents from GPO?
Official Federal Government publications are available to the public via the Internet on FDsys
Printed copies of many of those documents ranging from the Federal Register to reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics may also be purchased in person, online, via phone, fax, or postal mail.

To order in person:
Please visit the GPO Main Bookstore at 710 North Capitol St. NW, Washington DC (Corner of North Capitol and H Streets) from 8:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m. EST.

To order online:
Visit the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at

To order by phone or inquire about an order:
Call toll-free 866.512.1800 or, in the D.C. metro area, call 202.512.1800 from 7:00 a.m.- 6:30 p.m. EST.

By fax:
Dial 202.512.2104. Send order inquiries to

All orders require prepayment by VISA, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover/NOVUS credit cards, check, or SOD deposit account.

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