GPO focuses on digital platform in new strategy

Wednesday - 10/24/2012, 1:52pm EDT

Davita Vance-Cooks, Acting Public Printer, on The Federal Drive

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GPO Acting Public Printer Davita Vance-Cooks

As the needs of its customers become more digitally focused, the Government Printing Office is shifting from a "print-centric model to a content-centric model" in its new five-year strategic plan.

"So many people have asked why you need a Government Printing Office because the information is available on the web. Most people don't realize we're the ones who put it on the web," said Acting Public Printer Davita Vance-Cooks in an interview with The Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Emily Kopp.

The agency that prints the Congressional Record, Federal Register, bills and other official documents, also maintains the online database Federal Digital System (FDSys) .

That digital role has expanded and will continue to grow. GPO estimates that 97 percent of federal documents produced today are "born digital," meaning they are published to the web and not printed.

With that shift, GPO is focused on official, digital and secure information online. The agency uses public key encryption to certify documents are official. Users can see an eagle watermark as a digital signature that the document has been authenticated, Vance-Cooks said.

GPO will also continue to print secure identification cards and passports. Vance- Cooks said GPO is the only government-to-government provider to meet HSPD-12 standards.

The workforce will also have to change to meet future digital needs. GPO will continue to hire people but for specific technological skills, Vance-Cooks said.

The role of paper — what Vance-Cooks calls "tangible print" — will still have a place because some people do not have online access. Also, GPO can print at such volumes that it's cheaper than for an agency to print on their own, she said.

GPO is remaining in its sprawling building on North Capitol Street because it will continue to need space for digital equipment. However, some of the real estate is rented out to other agencies, Vance-Cooks said.

A new strategic direction could also mean a new name.

"We would love to change our name to the Government Publishing Office," she said. "The reason is very simple ... We publish the information in whatever format the customer wants," Vance-Cooks said.

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