With respect to the Nov. 23 letter from Office of Management and Budget Director Mitchell E. Daniels Jr., the Government Printing Office agrees that a number of myths regarding the OMB plan for federal printing need to be debunked.
Myth: The taxpayers will save money with the OMB's plan. Fact: They'll pay much more. The GPO's central buying power regularly nets federal agencies -- and the taxpayers -- "rock-bottom prices," in the words of the printing industry. The duplication of agency effort that will result from decentralizing printing in the manner the OMB is now recommending will cost the taxpayers 25% to 50% more; in today's terms, from $100 million to $200 million more.
Myth: There will be more competition in federal printing with the OMB's plan. Fact: Thousands of small-business printers will lose printing contract opportunities. We have more than 16,000 private printers on our master bid list. Last year, more than 70% of our contracts were to small businesses. More than 80% of the jobs we award are valued at $2,500 or under. The OMB's plan will allow agency bureaucrats to buy those jobs noncompetitively with federal credit cards, leaving only the big jobs up for grabs. One of the government's most successful small-business-oriented procurement programs will founder, leaving thousands of small-business printers high and dry.
Myth: More federal publications will be made available to the public with the OMB's plan. Fact: The reverse is what will happen. Right now, when agencies print through the GPO, we make sure that their publications are made available for public access through federal depository libraries and other channels, in a process that is transparent and cost-free to the agencies. If, under the current rules, agencies print publications themselves, they're required to provide us with copies to distribute. The problem is that agency compliance with this current requirement is abysmal, and, as a result, upward of 50% of federal publications become "fugitive" from the public access system. The OMB's plan is to leave it up to the agencies to make their publications available for public access.
Andrew M. Sherman
Dir., Office of Congressional and Public Affairs