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United States Government Publishing Office

Government Printing Office
Official seal
Agency overview
Formed March 4, 1861
Jurisdiction Federal government of the United States
Headquarters 732 North Capitol St. NW
Washington, D.C.[1]
Employees 1,920[1]
Annual budget US$126.2 million (2012); approx. US$135 million (2011)[1]
Agency executive Davita Vance-Cooks, Public Printer of the United States[2]
Parent agency United States Congress Joint Committee on Printing

The United States Government Printing Office (GPO) is an agency of the legislative branch of the United States federal government. The office prints documents produced by and for the federal government, including the Supreme Court, the Congress, the Executive Office of the President, executive departments, and independent agencies.


  • History 1
  • Public Printers of the United States 2
  • Published government documents 3
    • Official journals of government 3.1
    • Passports 3.2
    • Trusted Traveler Program card 3.3
    • GPO publications 3.4
    • GPO's Style Manual 3.5
  • GPO Police 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • Further reading 7
  • External links 8


GPO was created on June 23, 1860, by Congressional Joint Resolution 25. It began operations March 4, 1861, with 350 employees and reached a peak employment of 8,500 in 1972.[1] The agency began transformation to computer technology in 1980s; along with the gradual replacement of paper with electronic document distribution, this has led to a steady decline in the number of staff at the agency.[1] For its entire history, GPO has occupied the corner of North Capitol Street NW and H Street NW in the District of Columbia. The activities of GPO are defined in the public printing and documents chapters of Title 44 of the United States Code. The Public Printer, who serves as the head of GPO, is appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. The Public Printer selects a Superintendent of Documents.

U.S. Government Printing Office

The Superintendent of Documents (SuDocs) is in charge of the dissemination of information at the GPO. This is accomplished through the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP), the Cataloging and Indexing Program and the Publication Sales Program, as well as operation of the Federal Citizen Information Center in Pueblo, Colorado. Adelaide Hasse was the founder of the Superintendent of Documents classification system.[3]
GPO first used 100 percent recycled paper for the Congressional Record and Federal Register from 1991-1997, under Public Printers Robert Houk and Michael DiMario. GPO resumed using recycled paper in 2009.

In March 2011, GPO issued a new illustrated official history covering the agency's 150 years of Keeping America Informed.[4]

Public Printers of the United States

By law, the Public Printer heads the GPO. The position of Public Printer traces its roots back to Benjamin Franklin and the period before the American Revolution, when he served as "publick printer," whose job was to produce official government documents for Pennsylvania and other colonies.

Public Printers:

  1. Almon M. Clapp (1876–1877)
  2. John D. Defrees (1877–1882)
  3. Sterling P. Rounds (1882–1886)
  4. Thomas E. Benedict (1886–1889)
  5. Frank W. Palmer (1889–1894)
  6. Thomas E. Benedict (1894–1897)
  7. Frank W. Palmer (1897–1905), O.J. Ricketts (Acting, 1905–1905)
  8. Charles A. Stillings (1905–1908), William S. Rossiter (Acting, 1908–1908), Capt. Henry T. Brian (Acting, 1908–1908)
  9. John S. Leech (1908–1908)
  10. Samuel B. Donnelly (1908–1913)
  11. Cornelius Ford (1913–1921)
  12. George H. Carter (1921–1934)
  13. Augustus E. Giegengack (1934–1948), John J. Deviny (Acting, 1948–1948)
  14. John J. Deviny (1948–1953), Phillip L. Cole (Acting, 1953–1953)
  15. Raymond Blattenberger (1953–1961), John M. Wilson (Acting, 1961–1961), Felix E. Cristofane (Acting, 1961–1961)
  16. James L. Harrison (1961–1970)
  17. Adolphus N. Spence (1970–1972), Harry J. Humphrey (Acting, 1972–1973), L.T. Golden (Acting Deputy, 1973-1973)
  18. Thomas F. McCormick (1973–1977)
  19. John J. Boyle (1977–1980), Samuel Saylor (Acting, 1980–1981)
  20. Danford L. Sawyer, Jr. (1981–1984), William J. Barrett (Acting, 1984–1984)
  21. Ralph E. Kennickell, Jr. (1984–1989)
  22. Robert Houk (1990–1993),[5] Michael F. DiMario (Acting, 1993–1993)
  23. Michael F. DiMario (1993[6]-2002)
  24. Bruce James (2002–2007),[7] William H. Turri (Acting, 2007–2007)
  25. Robert C. Tapella (2007–2010)[8]
  26. William J. Boarman (2010-2012)[9]
  27. Davita Vance-Cooks (2013– )[2]

Published government documents

Official journals of government

GPO contracts out much of the federal government's printing but prints the official journals of government in-house, including:


The new e-passport produced by GPO

GPO has been producing U.S. passports since the 1920s. The United States Department of State began issuing e-passports in 2006. The e-Passport includes an electronic chip embedded in the cover that contains the same information that is printed in the passport: name, date and place of birth, sex, dates of passport issuance and expiration, passport number, and photo of the bearer. GPO produces the blank e-Passport, while the Department of State receives and processes applications and issues individual passports.[10][11][12][13] GPO ceased production of legacy passports in May 2007, shifting production entirely to e-passports.

In March 2008, the Washington Times published a three-part story about the outsourcing of electronic passports to overseas companies, including one in Thailand that was subject to Chinese espionage.[11][14][15]

Trusted Traveler Program card

GPO designs, prints, encodes and personalizes Trusted Traveler Program cards (NEXUS, SENTRI and FAST) for the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

GPO publications

External video
Official Presidential Photograph
printed by GPO
American Artifacts: Government Printing Office (29:47), C‑SPAN[16]
  • Cumulative Copyright Catalogs
  • Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion (1870–88)
  • Official Records of the American Civil War
  • US Congressional Serial Set
  • United States. Adjutant-General's Office. Military Information Division (1901). Publication, Issue 33. WASHINGTON: G.P.O. Retrieved February 19, 2011. (Document (United States. War Dept.))(Original from Harvard University)
  • United States. Adjutant-General's Office. Military Information Division, p (1901). Publications, Issues 33-34. p. 528. Retrieved 1 April 2013. 
  • United States. Adjutant-General's Office. Military Information Division, Stephen L'H. Slocum, Carl Reichmann, Adna Romanga Chaffee (1901). Reports on military operations in South Africa and China. July, 1901. WASHINGTON:  (Issue 33 of Publication (United States. Adjutant-General's Office. Military Information Division) Issue 143 of Document, United States War Dept Issue 33 of Publication, United States Adjutant-General's Office)
  • Stephan L'H. Slocum, Carl Reichmann, Adna Romanza Chaffee, United States. Adjutant-General's Office. Military Information Division (1901). Reports on military operations in South Africa and China. WASHINGTON: G.P.O. p. 600. Retrieved February 19, 2011. (Issue 143 of Document (United States. War Dept.))(Original from the New York Public Library)
  • United States. Bureau of Foreign Commerce, United States. Dept. of Commerce and Labor. Bureau of Statistics, United States. Bureau of Manufactures (1904). Commercial relations of the United States with foreign countries during the years ..., Volume 2. WASHINGTON: G.P.O. Retrieved June 28, 2010. (Original from Harvard University)
  • United States. Bureau of Foreign Commerce (1891). Reports from the consuls of the United States, Issues 124–127. WASHINGTON: G.P.O. Retrieved July 17, 2011. (Original from the University of California)
  • United States. War Dept (1899). Annual Reports of the War Department, Volume 1, Part 2; Volume 1, Part 4. U.S. Government Printing Office. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
  • United States. Office of Education (1901). Report of the Federal Security Agency: Office of Education, Volume 2. U.S. Government Printing Office. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
  • Philippines. Gobernador-General, Philippines. Governor (1919). Report of the Governor General of the Philippine Islands to the Secretary of War. U.S. Government Printing Office. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
  • Chen, Da (1923). Chinese Migrations, with Special Reference to Labor Conditions. Volume 340 of Bulletin of the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, Volume 85, Issue 19 of House Documents. U.S. Government Printing Office. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 

GPO's Style Manual

GPO publishes the United States Style Manual.[17] Among the venerable series are Foreign Relations of the United States for the Department of State (since 1861), Statistical Abstract of the United States for the Census Bureau (since 1878), and Public Papers of the President, covering the administrations of Presidents Herbert Hoover onward (except Franklin D. Roosevelt, whose papers were privately printed).

GPO Police

Security for GPO facilities is provided by the Government Printing Office Police.[18] The force is part of the GPO’s Physical Security Group and in 2003 had 53 officers.[19] Officers are appointed under Title 44 USC § 317 by the Public Printer (or his delegate) to serve as "special policemen". Their duty is to "protect persons and property in premises and adjacent areas occupied by or under the control of the Government Printing Office". Officers are authorized to bear and use arms in the performance of their duties, make arrests for violations of federal and state law, (and that of Washington, DC) and enforce the regulations of the Public Printer, including requiring the removal from GPO premises of individuals who violate such regulations. Officers have concurrent jurisdiction with the law enforcement agencies where the premises are located.[20]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f Rein, Lisa (January 25, 2012), "U.S. printing office shrinks with round of buyouts",  
  2. ^ a b "Federal Eye". The Washington Post. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ GPO History
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Presidential Nominations Sent to the Senate, 4/19/10". Retrieved August 11, 2010. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ GPO's E-Passport Factsheet
  11. ^ a b Bill Gertz, GPO profits go to bonuses and trips, Washington Times, March 27, 2008
  12. ^ Bill Gertz, Outsourced passport work scrutinized, Washington Times, March 26, 2008
  13. ^ Confronting Digital Age Head-On, Washington Post, March 13, 2006
  14. ^ Bill Gertz, Outsourced passports netting govt. profits, risking national security, Washington Times, March 26, 2008
  15. ^ "GPO's backup plant on storm-prone Gulf". Washington Times. Retrieved January 18, 2010. 
  16. ^ "American Artifacts: Government Printing Office".  
  17. ^ "GPO Style Manual". United States Government Printing Office. April 16, 2009. Retrieved August 9, 2009. 
  18. ^ "GPO Uniformed Police". Website of the Government Printing Office. Government Printing Office. Retrieved 18 April 2014. 
  19. ^ "Review of Potential Merger of the Library of Congress Police and/or the Government Printing Office Police with the U.S. Capitol Police".  
  20. ^ 44 U.S.C. § 317

Further reading

  • 100 GPO Years, 1861–1961: A History of United States Public Printing. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 2010.

External links

  • GPO Website
  • United States House and Senate Committee Hearings and Publications in the LOUISiana Digital Library
  • National Federation of Advanced Information Services
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