GPO celebrates its sesquicentennial

Wednesday - 6/23/2010, 10:31am EDT

Bob Tapella, Public Printer, GPO

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By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor
FederalNewsRadio.com

The U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) kicked off its 150 year anniversary celebration today.

Bob Tapella, Public Printer at GPO, told Federal News Radio they started big and just kept growing. "There has been a printing plant on this site since 1854," said Tapella. Now they have 33 acres of floor space, 1.4 million square feet and are the "largest printing and digital information factory in the world."

That doesn't mean the GPO will be changing its name to the Government Printing and Digital Information Office anytime soon. Tapella said the idea is nearly old hat. "GPO's been in the digital information industry or business since the 1990s. In fact we're, I believe, the only federal agency that is mandated to have a website in law."

So from steam driven printing presses to GPO Access, they're all about putting out the federal word.

While there may be less of a need for printers who can set type by hand, GPO now needs more programmers, designers and information security specialists.

My goal during my tenure was to make certain that GPO was back in the forefront of the industry and if you look at the complete printing industry, look at our entire industry across the world, it is in transition. I do believe there will always be a need for ink on paper. I don't see that ever going away in my lifetime. However, there are going to be slightly different purposes for what gets printed.

Even the Public Printer reads his daily newspapers electronically. Tapella told the Federal Drive he reads them on his iPad, saying "it's a game changer."